Digital Transformation and the opportunity for the returning diaspora

20 Dec 2016

Sean Downey, Director of Specialist Contracting Construction Industry Federation

There has never been a better time for those who left Ireland in the past decade seeking opportunities abroad, to consider returning home in 2017.

As all indicators suggest sustained growth of our GDP over the next 5 years, the construction industry in Ireland is set for significant expansion as demand for both private and public sector construction services grow. The DKM-CIF Report on demand for skills in construction to 2020 shows a 50% net increase in construction employment over the 2016 to 2020 term.

Those who have ventured abroad will no doubt have been exposed to new ways of working, experienced new technologies and perhaps have led significant projects that transformed the landscape in their adopted country.

Ireland’s construction industry stands at a pivotal position. We are on the cusp of a digital transformation whereby technology has the potential to change the way we build, introduce significant off-site fabrication opportunities and revolutionise the design and delivery process.

Our nearest neighbours have had 12 months, with some challenges, of a government imposed mandate for all publicly procured works to be delivered using BIM Level 2. Through Enterprise Ireland we are currently developing a roadmap for the implementation of BIM here in Ireland.

2017 will bring many opportunities in specialist fields including engineering, design, construction management, specialist package contract management, and specialist cost management. Returning emigres who have acquired new skill sets and have experience of operating in a more digitised project environment will be highly sought after.

A significant number of projects are already in the ground in the pharmaceutical and data management sectors with the peak build periods yet to come from mid-2017 onwards. Tie that into the anticipated increased development in the housing sector and the already programmed public sector schools and major civil engineering works for flood protection and the next few years look very stable.

Certain sectors will no doubt be concentrated in the greater Dublin area, but the flood relief works and the social housing programme offer regional opportunities for those returning looking to return to their native region of Ireland.

My advice is to do your research and to consider all the national infrastructure projects that are scheduled for 2017 and beyond before finalising your chosen location. A good start would be to check for those opportunities.

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