Con­struc­tion in­dus­try may need to re­cruit from abroad to fill jobs, Cen­tral Bank re­ports

New anal­y­sis finds that the de­mo­graphic of the in­dus­try has shifted over the decade

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - CIARA O’BRIEN PHO­TO­GRAPH: ISTOCK

The con­struc­tion in­dus­try may need to re­cruit from abroad to keep up with de­mand, an anal­y­sis by Cen­tral Bank has found.

In the anal­y­sis, ti­tled Where are Ire­land’s con­struc­tion work­ers?, au­thors Thomas Cone­frey and Tara McIn­doe-Calder found the in­dus­try had re­gained only about one third of the jobs it lost dur­ing the eco­nomic crash, lag­ging other in­dus­tries.

The ar­ti­cle is part of the Cen­tral bank’s Quar­terly Bul­letin for 2018.

It also found the pro­file of work­ers has changed in the in­dus­try, with those now em­ployed older, more likely to be Ir­ish na­tion­als and with higher lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion than a decade ago.

Em­ploy­ment

Fol­low­ing the crash in the prop­erty mar­ket, em­ploy­ment in the in­dus­try fell to 83,400 in 2012, from a high of 236,800 recorded in 2007. That rep­re­sented a 65 per cent drop.

With the eco­nomic re­cov­ery since 2012, re­cov­ery in em­ploy­ment in the sec­tor has re­mained weak, buck­ing gen­eral em­ploy­ment trends that have seen lev­els in other in­dus­tries rise above the 2007 peak. The ar­ti­cle’s au­thors noted the num­ber at work in con­struc­tion was 46 per cent lower than in 2007.

“This means that a large num­ber of con­struc­tion work­ers who lost their jobs dur­ing the 2008-12 pe­riod have not re­gained em­ploy­ment in the sec­tor in Ire­land,” the ar­ti­cle said. “The ques­tion then arises: where are these work­ers now?”

Al­though there is no de­fin­i­tive way to track the progress of for­mer con­struc­tion work­ers through the Ir­ish labour mar­ket, the re­searchers used a num­ber of an­a­lyt­i­cal ap­proaches to draw con­clu­sions. This found there was un­likely to be a sig­nif­i­cant pool of for­mer con­struc­tion work­ers ei­ther in unem­ploy­ment or out­side the labour force.

“This sug­gests that a large pro­por­tion of con­struc­tion work­ers who lost their jobs dur­ing the crash are likely to have em­i­grated. As con­struc­tion sec­tor

Anal­y­sis by the Cen­tral Bank says a large num­ber of con­struc­tion work­ers who lost their jobs dur­ing the 2008-12 pe­riod have not re­gained em­ploy­ment in the sec­tor.

out­put picks up, net in­ward mi­gra­tion is likely to play an im­por­tant role in meet­ing the de­mand for labour in the sec­tor,” the ar­ti­cle said.

It noted the change in age pro­file and ed­u­ca­tion level of those in­volved in the in­dus­try, with the av­er­age age of a worker in 2017, 42.3 years com­pared with 35.6 a decade ear­lier. Al­most half have a third-level qual­i­fi­ca­tion now com­pared with 28 per cent a decade ago.

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