The Construction Industry Federation has responded to the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council bulletin, published today.

10 May 2024

The bulletin, as reported, outlined the impact of Ireland’s housing shortage on the country’s economic competitiveness and labour shortages in construction.

Hubert Fitzpatrick, Director General of the Construction Industry Federation said:

“With the country’s population now at 5.2 million and growing, the need for housing and infrastructure could not be greater to safeguard Ireland’s competitiveness and the wellbeing of its people.

“The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council rightly outlined the impact that a lack of housing could have on Ireland’s competitiveness. The Construction Industry Federation has advocated for a long time that our housing targets and their distribution require revision and welcomed the new housing targets proposed by Taoiseach Simon Harris.

“Thankfully the National Planning Framework is currently being revised, which is the top tier of planning in Ireland and sets out our housing targets along with Housing For All. That said, we must also emphasise the requirement for enhanced and timely investment in infrastructure such as water, energy and transport, without which achievement of housing targets will be seriously challenged.

“A perception about labour capacity constraints should not be used as an excuse to defer planning for more infrastructure and housing delivery. In terms of capacity issues, the industry is confident that these revised targets can be achieved subject to land capacity, planning capacity and funding capacity, as well as labour capacity, to meet the targets. These factors will determine when we can reach the target of 50,000 housing units per annum. It is therefore vital that we have quicker decision-making time frames in relation to zoning land, servicing land, securing planning permissions and funding, alongside an increase in labour.

“Due to the decline in commercial construction activity over the last twelve months, there has been a shift in labour from the commercial construction sector into residential construction. We also anticipate that increased use of Modern Methods of Construction including timber frame, steel frame, pre-cast panelling, ICF system and possibly fully volumetric 3d MMC, will increase efficiencies of scale and production as output on sites increases.

“Between 2021 and 2022 there was a 45% increase in new housing construction and between 2016 and 2019 new housing output grew by nearly 50%. A number of recent initiatives including the development waiver and rebate scheme as well as First Home Scheme and the introduction of cost rental models at scale are resulting in a very significant increase in housing commencements.

“It is vital that we continue this momentum and attract new entrants into the construction industry. Between 2019 and 2022, during the challenging years on Covid, the numbers employed in construction continued to grow by 20,000 people as more and more people realise the attractiveness of working in a sector with a rising demand. Our Quarter Two Construction Outlook survey found that 20% of respondents reported an increase in the total number of people they employ, with 23% expecting this trend to persist in the months ahead.

“The Government outreach programme is spreading the message internationally that Ireland needs more construction workers and we hope that many Irish emigrants will return and that we attract more skilled workers into Ireland. The construction industry is an internationalised sector with many workers moving to new countries several times in their careers. The industry is working closely with Government on its careers action plan to seek new entrants. We’re looking forward to working with the new Minister to continue the good work previously done by the new Taoiseach.”


For media queries contact:
Meabh Smith
CIF Communications Director

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