Construction sector aims to tempt emigrants home

Irish companies are targeting skilled workers abroad to fill 112,000 vacancies

Irish construction companies are trying to tempt former workers home from abroad to meet rapidly rising demand for trade specialists.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) says it will need to find 112,000 workers if it is to deliver €17.8 billion in expected construction activity.

It has launched a new website,, to target member of the the Irish diaspora in its efforts to secure the necessary skills to meet the targets set out in Government strategies for homebuilding, infrastructure and foreign direct investment.

The lobby group says activity in the sector is expected to grow by 9 per cent annually between now and 2020 and it is pinning its hopes on returning emigrants to provide the skilled labour necessary.


A report it commissioned from DKM says that level of construction activity can sustain an additional 112,000 jobs in that period.

It notes there is an estimated €17.8 billion worth of projects in the pipeline in 2017.

In demand

Topping the list of trades most in demand are carpentry and joinery, where the CIF says as many as 30,800 skilled workers are required.

Thereafter, the strongest demand is for general labourers (27,600) and operatives (18,100).

However, there is also likely to be a significant shortfall in electricians (15,200), plasterers, tilers (13,900) and plumbers (11,800) over the next four years.

Up to 9,400 painters and decorators and 7,800 bricklayers will also be needed, according to industry estimates, along with 9,600 site and project managers.

"We are asking Irish people with construction experience who have left Ireland to consider returning to take up a role in construction," said CIF director general Tom Parlon.

“The construction industry is growing strongly across all sectors and trades. There is sufficient work in the pipeline to require about another 112,000 jobs up to 2020 and beyond.

On top of the €17.8 billion of projects in the pipeline or under construction, Mr Parlon said further work was likely to come from an expected expansion of the Government’s capital programme and increased demand for housing.

“So, there is a strong basis for people to build strong careers in construction here in Ireland,” he said.


Apart from trying to tempt people home, the CIF says it was working with the Education and Training Boards to upskill people on the live register with construction experience and looking to attract young people into the industry by highlighting the modern globalised careers available.

It says the recovery will lead to a strong increase in the demand for apprentices.

By 2020, it expects demand for new apprentices to hit 3,835 – more than 2,000 above the numbers taken on by the industry last year.

While acknowledging that Brexit could have an adverse impact, the CIF says the volume of commercial and residential property work already planned means the outlook for the sector is positive.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times