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85,000 Construction workers still on Live Register
By Ruth Baily
According to the latest figures, there are currently 85,000 construction workers or those with trades associated with construction on the live register. Given the continuing fall in the numbers unemployed, this is a stark figure. It represents over 20% of all of those signing on at the present time.
By getting someone back into employment there is a gain of between €20,000 to €30,000 to the exchequer. This is made of the range of social welfare payments that are no longer paid, along with the taxes now paid by the employee. There is also the wider gain of consumer spending in the economy.
We are experiencing a major housing supply shortage in certain parts of the country. Dublin in particular is feeling the effects of the shortage with double digit house price rises over the past 12 months. The solution to this problem is to increase supply. By creating the environment whereby supply can be increased a number of problems could be solved. The demand for houses would be sated, jobs would be created for those currently on the live register and the wider economy would gain through extra spending.
‘Construction 2020’, the Government’s document which deals with all aspects of the construction industry aims to create such an environment. Among the 75 actions contained in the plan the Government hopes to get 60,000 construction workers back re-employed over the next five years. Given the current demand for housing and the continuing recovery of the economy if all of 75 actions listed in ‘Construction 2020’ were fully carried out it is likely that more construction workers would be re-employed faster.
The construction industry is not just about building houses and those who work in the industry have a wide range of skills and talents. We know that to encourage foreign direct investment we need to have a ready supply of Grade A office buildings in place in the right locations. In the prime Dublin locations these are currently in short supply. We also need appropriate infrastructure, roads, railways, airports, water supply and broadband services. All of these, along with schools, leisure facilities, shops and hotels are beginning to be needed in particular locations to meet the needs of our growing population. By putting in place the right framework to encourage construction, those construction workers whose skills are currently being wasted on the live register could be re-employed and the wider economy would greatly benefit.