Around the Block: Shortage of skilled tradesmen stymies building

Many brickies and other workers have gone to London or Australia

Many brickies and other workers have gone to London or Australia

Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 00:00

The general expectation that there will be hundreds of new houses ready for sale in the Dublin suburbs this autumn to meet the current shortfall looks like being wide of the mark.

Several developers have indeed reopened sites after seven years but in most cases their building operations are just about ticking over because of a shortage of skilled tradesmen.

The reality is that there is an immense shortage of experienced brickies, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other skilled workers because when the property market crashed in 2007 most of them sought work in either London or Australia. Even though the word has filtered back to them that there are employment opportunities again in Dublin, they seem reluctant to move back because of the good working conditions abroad and the fear that the sudden uplift in the Dublin market may be only temporary.

The problem of a scarcity of skilled tradesmen has been exacerbated by the fact that the training of apprentices virtually dried up over the last seven years, leaving a wide gap in the employment market that could well affect the construction industry in the years ahead.

The shortage of tradesmen should not have any great impact on the Dublin office market where several new developments are due to get under way later this year. These days, office construction largely involves dropping completed walls and floors into place and adding in the other fittings.