Irish construction expected to grow by 20% despite more skills shortage concerns

An all island Irish construction industry review undertaken by AECOM has predicted a growth estimate of 20% in 2019, totalling €24bn.

Although the report has uncovered continuing concerns surrounding talent available for the industry with only 15% of respondents believing they are equipped to deal with the looming skills shortage crisis.

The annual review carried out with senior professionals in the public and private sectors analysed the industry outlook and attempted to provide a long-term view to what will be required to sustain development into the coming decades to 2040.

By seeking answers into what is driving and blocking development and the challenges the industry will face into the future, bosses were able to provide AECOM with warnings and feel good messages.

One positive outcome of the report was the fact that over three quarters (77%) of the industry surveyed stated that they felt positive about their own individual business outlook for 2019.

AECOM director in Ireland John O’Regan claims fears are mounting that unless access to talent improves, there will not be enough employees to meet future construction demands, particularly when it comes to housing.

“Looking at the current challenges, 40% of industry admitted that their inability to attract and keep talent is their biggest business concern,” he said. “With a significant percentage of the skilled workforce still choosing to work abroad, the pressure is mounting to attract workers to the industry. For them to choose Ireland as their long-term base, greater certainty is needed in terms of wages, costs of living and the viability of the market.”

The AECOM director also pointed to transport vulnerability as a worry moving forward and that more resilient engineering designs maybe needed to cope with the changing environment.

O’Regan said: “Our strong economic and population growth brings congestion, pressure on our broadband, water supply, sewage treatment, raw materials supply and waste management, all of which require infrastructural responses. However, these challenges are now augmented by our changing environment and the new threats facing our buildings such as flooding, wind speeds and falling debris and even temperature changes.”

Last year, AECOM forecast growth of 14% but construction growth exceeded expectations and was 17.6%, bringing output to €20bn in 2018. However, another area of concern highlighted is the sustainability of Foreign Direct Investment plans.

“Success is not just attracting new FDI, it is also retaining it and continuing to adapt our infrastructure to ensure we meet future needs,” O’Regan said. “Without strategic investment, cities will become increasingly congested, uncompetitive and saturated in terms of resources. That is why greater foresight into our future infrastructure and housing requirements across cities and regional urban centres is crucial to ensure our continued economic growth and maintain our strong FDI pipeline.”

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