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Research shows Irish housing market and construction sector will continue to suffer

DUBLIN: New research shows labour shortages and market ups and downs will persist in the Irish construction industry. Therefore, even if the country’s economy is fully open, it will not be able to provide basic facilities or adequate housing in the housing market, according to a research report titled ‘Job Quality in the Construction Sector’. Research also suggests that there must be a consistent and conscious effort by government to address these issues.

These problems in Ireland will have serious repercussions on housing and infrastructure building strategies. The report also warns that high house prices and other delays will continue. Despite this, the report states that Irish sites are considered to be the safest in Europe.

The research report was prepared by the Think Tank for Action on Social Change (TASC) with the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). According to the report, the construction sector has a positive impact on the quality of life of low-skilled workers.

Underlining issues…

The report also addresses issues such as low-skilled workers, low wages, intimidation, lack of diversification and over-reliance on foreign workers. The report emphasizes that the ups and downs of the sector are the root cause of many of the problems facing the construction sector, including labor shortages, productivity and job stability.

Low wage

Revenue from the Irish construction industry is average. Although this is good, the problem remains that it is lower than the European Union average. While professionals such as engineers, architects and directors are highly paid, skilled manual workers are paid below EU standards.

Shortage of skilled workers

Leading researcher and TASC Senior Policy Analyst Dr. Robert Sweeney said there is a huge shortage of skilled professionals and crafts including carpenters and electricians.

The construction industry is highly dependent on foreign workers. He says this is because construction work does not always require proficiency in English. It is estimated that 20% of the population in this sector are migrant workers. However, the report does not say whether this is an accurate estimate.

Government should intervene

The report urges the government (as the biggest client in construction) to intervene to end the problems in the sector by giving long-term priority to the direct construction of social-affordable housing. A Construction Innovation Fund should be set up for SMEs to increase investment in research and development.

More research needs to be done to know the true extent of bogus self-employment. The report also suggests raising low-skilled worker wages, increasing female participation, avoiding bullying, and addressing mental health issues.

CIOB Ireland Policy and Public Affair Manager Joseph Kilroy commented that career guidance counsellors were reluctant to send students to the sector due to its unpredictability. He says this is the reason for the lack of diversity and skills shortage.

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