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Ireland's construction skills shortfall
Kelly Ohlmus

Ireland's construction skills shortfall

Report highlights construction skills needed and recommendations to meet housing targets 2023 to 2030

A new report commissioned by SOLAS analyses the shortfall in construction skills and recommendations to meet the Irish government's housing targets.

The report focuses on the skills required to:

  • Build an average of 33,000 houses annually between 2022-2030
  • Retrofit 446,300 houses over the same period
  • General repair & maintenance of housing stock 

 

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Construction Skills Shortfall

There has not been a sufficient number of new entrants in construction for many years, posing a serious challenge for the sector.

Factors attributed in the report to the skill shortfall include limited construction growth before 2018 and the 2020 and 2021 pandemic closures  - which have created delays in the education of training of apprentices. 

For example, the numbers registering for the painting and decorating apprenticeship and the plastering and tiling apprenticeship have been low for many years.

The report also highlights critical shortages of plumbers, carpenters, and bricklayers.

Technological changes, such as the widespread use of dry lining and increasingly higher use of timber and use of pre-cast concrete rather than blocks or bricks in construction, may also be a factor contributing to skill shortfall.  

Similarly, the sponsorships of apprentices in wood manufacturing have not kept pace with the growth in demand for off-site construction of timber frames and wood manufacturing.
 


Recommendations


The supply of skills in the report is defined as professional, technical, skilled, and semi-skilled construction workers.

A potential source of skilled construction and trade workers included technological universities and institutes of technology, apprenticeships schemes, the construction skills certification scheme and vocational training courses.

Other sources from outside of Ireland include skilled workers employed in the construction industry from another country within the European Economic Area (EEA) and skilled workers born outside of the EEA and are employed in the industry, having availed of the work permit scheme.
 
The report recommends an information campaign - job fairs and other methods - to be initiated to persuade skilled workers, particularly plumbers, carpenters, and bricklayers, who are employed in other EU member states and in other countries to seek work in the construction sector in Ireland.

For further analysis and report access visit:  Report on the Analysis of Skills for Residential Construction & Retrofitting, 2023 to 2030.

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