CIF hears of build­ing in­dus­try chal­lenges

Boom-and-bust cy­cle of con­struc­tion de­ter­ring young peo­ple from ca­reers

The Irish Times - Business - - NEWS - BARRY O’HAL­LO­RAN

In­dus­try los­ing out by not be­ing at­trac­tive to fe­male work­ers, con­fer­ence told

Build­ing’s boom and bust cy­cle de­ters young peo­ple from fol­low­ing ca­reers in the in­dus­try, lead­ing fig­ures warned yes­ter­day.

Tom Costello, head of con­struc­tion with prop­erty in­vest­ment fund Iput, pointed out that the in­dus­try had “de­stroyed liveli­hoods” dur­ing the recession which be­gan 10 years ago.

At the time, it em­ployed 230,000 peo­ple, and had to shed 70,000 of those jobs quickly. Mr Costello, a well-known fig­ure in the sec­tor, told the Con­struc­tion In­dus­try Fed­er­a­tion (CIF) an­nual con­fer­ence there was no strate­gic think­ing about longer-term needs while this was hap­pen­ing.

“At that time, there were about 20,000 ap­pren­tices in the sys­tem, and they were told that there was no fu­ture for them,” he said. “Now we are telling them that we want them all back.”

Hous­ing cri­sis

Mr Costello was speak­ing as part of a panel that looked at the chal­lenges fac­ing the in­dus­try. He agreed that the boom-and-bust pat­terns fol­lowed by the con­struc­tion in­dus­try here put young peo­ple off as they feared it would not of­fer a sta­ble ca­reer.

How­ever, Mr Costello stressed that the in­dus­try was a great en­vi­ron­ment in which to work and could of­fer good ca­reers. Tom Dunne, head of Dublin In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy’s school of sur­vey­ing, told the con­fer­ence part of the sec­tor’s prob­lem was that it was only “re­cruit­ing from half the hu­man race” and not at­tract­ing enough women. “The num­ber of fe­males is re­ally, re­ally low,” he said. “The in­dus­try is not at­trac­tive enough to fe­males and there are other in­dus­tries that are at­trac­tive to fe­males. We are los­ing out on that.”

Speak­ing at the same event, Min­is­ter for Hous­ing, Eoghan Mur­phy con­firmed that the Gov­ern­ment planned to pub­lish its pro­posed na­tional plan­ning frame­work by the end of the year.

Key ur­ban ar­eas

The frame­work would form the ba­sis of plan­ning around the Repub­lic, and par­tic­u­larly in the key ur­ban ar­eas.It will in­clude pro­vi­sion for greater-den­sity hous­ing in cities such as Dublin, Cork, Lim­er­ick and Water­ford. Mr Mur­phy said the Repub­lic’s pop­u­la­tion is likely to be about six mil­lion by 2040. “We will have to fo­cus on com­mu­ni­ties and on qual­ity of life.”

Taoiseach Leo Varad­kar said the Cabi­net was likely to fol­low the fed­er­a­tion’s sug­ges­tion and es­tab­lish a con­struc­tion in­dus­try group. This will have rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the in­dus­try, Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and State bod­ies.

CIF pres­i­dent Do­minic Do­heny said it was vi­tal the group was es­tab­lished be­fore work be­gins on the na­tional plan­ning frame­work. “Our in­dus­try will trans­form Ire­land by 2030, 2040 and be­yond,” he said. “This time we have a unique op­por­tu­nity to do this in a sus­tain­able way.”

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