CIF hears of building industry challenges
Boom-and-bust cycle of construction deterring young people from careers
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.”
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.”