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Irish builders lured back home as construction increases

The last 10 years have seen a stagnation of the Irish domestic construction industry. As the industry begins to recover, Ireland is now short over 100,000 workers.

The Construction Industry Federation has launched a promotion campaign to lure the Irish expatriate community back to Ireland to fuel new growth.

After the financial crisis of 2008-2010, many unemployed skilled workers headed to more fruitful pastures in Australia or other countries within the UK. The campaign is aimed at filling growing shortages in Dublin and beyond. There is a lack of housing in many locations, with demand outstripping supply. This has resulted in a rise in the number of homeless and a distinct price bubble in Dublin. The resulting climb of housing and rental prices have prompted local councils to introduce rent controls to maintain housing affordability.

As construction picks up around the country, the figures are looking good. Although 12,000 houses will be built in the coming 12 months, there is demand for another 20,000. The lack of skilled labour is holding back the recovery of the entire Irish economy. Foreign investment is increasing but is hamstrung by the lack of workers.

To put this in perspective, prior to the bust of 2008, construction was contributing to an impressive 23% of Ireland’s economy. This proved to be unsustainable over the previous average of 14% of GDP. Today in the first stirrings of the recovery, construction contributes a mere 7-8%.

 

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One way to quantify the increase in demand is to watch the employment numbers. The boom times saw over a quarter of a million people employed, which dwindled to a shocking 96,000 by the time the dust had settled in 2013. Recently, figures have shown employment has crept up to 137,000, which is a good sign. The CIF is on the hunt for another 100,000 men and women to return to the construction workforce.

The government of Ireland is rallying behind the initiative. After seeing construction contribute to a 4% GDP growth in the 3rd quarter of 2016, suddenly support is readily available. This, in combination with more available credit and growing interest from foreign investment is seeing a resurgence in the Irish building industry.

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