Out­look for the prop­erty sec­tor still very pos­i­tive

Irish Independent - Business Week - - APPOINTMENTS -

Bud­get 2019 had few spe­cific im­pli­ca­tions for prop­erty mar­kets, nor was much needed, as most in­di­ca­tors are very pos­i­tive. Over­all, strong eco­nomic growth, in­creas­ing em­ploy­ment, in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion and lower taxes will con­tinue to drive the of­fice and lo­gis­tics mar­kets and will help the re­tail sec­tor, which con­tin­ues to strug­gle in the face of on­line re­tail­ing. Mir­ror­ing all of that, and the pos­i­tive out­look, the spend on com­mer­cial in­vest­ments and de­vel­op­ment land is ap­proach­ing record lev­els.

The ex­cep­tion, of course, is house­build­ing, where sup­ply lev­els re­main way be­low what is re­quired, in the pri­vate, af­ford­able, and so­cial sec­tors. The frus­trat­ing thing is that, sim­i­lar to the is­sues in the health ser­vice, money isn’t the prob­lem. Bud­get 2019 sees lots more money thrown at the cri­sis, but the prob­lem is in break­ing through the lay­ers of bu­reau­cracy and de­lay and trans­lat­ing fund­ing al­lo­ca­tions into ac­tual build­ing. There is a wel­come ini­tia­tive to try and sim­plify ap­proval pro­cesses for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to build so­cial hous­ing – but I’m not hold­ing my breath.

The abo­li­tion of the spe­cial 9pc VAT rate for the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor is no sur­prise. Quite sim­ply, it worked per­fectly and is no longer needed (cer­tainly in the cities). There will con­tinue to be strong de­mand to buy and build ho­tels. The suc­cess of the ‘emer­gency’ VAT rate for hos­pi­tal­ity, makes it more frus­trat­ing that the same think­ing couldn’t be ap­plied to solv­ing much of the hous­ing cri­sis. Halv­ing VAT on new homes would have made homes more af­ford­able, kick-started build­ing and seen the State col­lect more VAT. It still would. It’s a win-win.

One prob­lem is that tax in­cen­tives in the prop­erty sec­tor are still po­lit­i­cally toxic, and a VAT cut would be seen as a tax break for de­vel­op­ers. It’s not, it’s a tax break for home-buy­ers. Other than a Brexit-re­lated eco­nomic shock (and I’m still bet­ting Brexit won’t hap­pen) it’s hard to see any­thing other than in­creas­ing rents, cap­i­tal val­ues and land prices, in the short-term, at least.

Con­struc­tion trades are a real op­tion for women

If you hap­pen to spot some­one ab­seil­ing down the side of a con­struc­tion project in Ire­land, you may well be look­ing at in­dus­trial ab­seiler, Jen Kelly. Orig­i­nally from Gal­way, Kelly has worked on sky­scrapers and oil rigs around the world, and she re­cently worked on the fa­cade of the new Grant Thorn­ton head­quar­ters on City Quay, Dublin 2. But Kelly is also com­mit­ted to Women in Trades Net­work Ire­land (WITNI), the men­tor­ing and sup­port group she founded in 2016.

Kelly tells me that in Ire­land to­day, less than 1pc of con­struc­tion work­ers on-site are women, and that women make up just 34 of the 10,000 ap­pren­tice­ships with SOLAS (the State or­gan­i­sa­tion for train­ing and fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion).

WITNI was es­tab­lished to en­cour­age, men­tor and sup­port women com­ing into the trades and Kelly is glad to re­port she is see­ing a big in­crease in the num­bers of women en­quir­ing to her. With a short­age of labour in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try, which is af­fect­ing ca­pac­ity and build­ing prices, there are great ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties for women.

Kelly be­lieves that the in­dus­try, if it wants to see more peo­ple be­com­ing in­volved, will have to bet­ter sup­port young peo­ple – par­tic­u­larly those not liv­ing at home. She does be­lieve that SOLAS has made moves over the last year to “in­crease their reach to young women for the craft ap­pren­tice­ships”.

Women work­ing in con­struc­tion in Ire­land are in ev­ery sec­tor, in­clud­ing elec­tri­cians, plumbers, car­pen­ters and welders, and on a re­cent field trip, mem­bers ranged in age from 21 to 76. WITNI is also work­ing with com­pa­nies who want help in ac­cess­ing women em­ploy­ees, and Kelly finds it en­cour­ag­ing that con­trib­u­tors to their cur­rent crowd­fun­der to at­tend a Tradeswomen con­fer­ence in Seat­tle, in­clude the DIT and Glen­veagh Prop­er­ties.

“A pas­sion for your job is what’s im­por­tant. Trades are for ev­ery­one, re­gard­less of gen­der,” Kelly told me.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit witni.ie

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