Builders struggling to find workers as sector set to grow by 20%

AECOM survey highlights sustainability of foreign direct investment as a concern

The construction sector is expected to grow by 20 per cent this year but the industry is concerned about its inability to attract and keep workers, according to a new survey.

An annual construction industry review, published by AECOM in Ireland, analyses the industry outlook and outlines suggestions as to what will be required to sustain development out to 2040.

AECOM estimated the sector would grow by 20 per cent in 2019, totalling €24 billion. More than three quarters of the industry surveyed stated that they felt positive about their own individual business outlook for 2019.

However, AECOM in Ireland director John O’Regan said there were nonetheless areas of concerns for the sector.


“Areas of concern were highlighted such as the sustainability of our foreign direct investment (FDI) plan, how prepared companies felt to deal with looming talent shortage and our infrastructural resilience in the wake of increasing climate changes,” he said.


“Success is not just attracting new FDI, it is also retaining it and continuing to adapt our infrastructure to ensure we meet future needs.

“Looking at the current challenges, 40 per cent of industry admitted that their inability to attract and keep talent is their biggest business concern.

“With a significant percentage of the skilled workforce still choosing to work abroad, the pressure is mounting to attract workers to the industry.

“For them to choose Ireland as their long-term base, greater certainty is needed in terms of wages, costs of living and the viability of the market.

“Fears are mounting amongst industry that, unless access to talent improves, there will not be enough employees to meet the demands, in particular the Government’s housing requirements.”

Respondents to the survey said engineering was the most crucial skill required to keep the industry moving forward over the next 10-20 years, but only 15 per cent of the sector said they were fully prepared to deal with the challenge of sourcing talent.

“Our report also indicated that Ireland’s transport networks and services are becoming increasingly vulnerable,” said Mr O’Regan.

“Our strong economic and population growth brings congestion, pressure on our broadband, water supply, sewage treatment, raw materials supply and waste management, all of which require infrastructural responses.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter