My son wants to work in construction, what’s the best route in?

Ask Brian: There are a multitude of career options in sector that is expanding again

Most experts agree that we are only beginning to see the recovery in the construction of domestic housing and apartment market. Photograph: iStock

Most experts agree that we are only beginning to see the recovery in the construction of domestic housing and apartment market. Photograph: iStock

 

Question: My son came back from ‘The Irish Times’ Higher Options event in the RDS in September with a new interest in pursuing a career in the construction industry. I’m a bit worried as it’s a highly cyclical area. What is the best route to get a decent job?

Answer: You’re right: the industry can be cyclical in specific countries or regions of the world, but with the global population increasing continuously, there will never be any shortage of work for skilled construction professionals at all levels of the industry.

Hundreds of Irish construction professionals work around the globe. Many of them had brought family with them, while others commuted back to Ireland every few months.

The Irish construction industry is currently growing by 9 per cent per annum and is expected to grow at this rate until 2020 – this is catch-up.

What this translates into is a sector that is hiring 1,000 people per month across all skills and professions. Most experts agree that we are only beginning to see the recovery in the construction of domestic housing and apartment market.

It hasn’t always been like this, of course. Between 2010 and 2015 there was a huge drop-off in students seeking and taking up courses in every aspect of construction. The small numbers of graduates now coming off these programmes in 2017 have multiple employers seeking to entice them to accept a job offer.

This shows the folly of making CAO course choice decisions based not on innate interest but on the prospects for specific occupations in the year of a student’s Leaving Cert.

There are a multitude of careers in the construction sector and many routes to achieve success.

If your son is interested in a trade then the apprenticeship route is ideal – this has the advantage of offering a paid route to training and a worldwide recognised skill and qualification at the end.

If he is interested in the CAO listed courses, there are hundreds at Qualifax (www.qualifax.ie). If you want to explore what these courses lead to, Careers Portal (www.careersportal.ie) has a comprehensive construction related sector.

The construction sector is not immune to modern technology either – the way in which structures are being designed and built is changing and modern technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) is emerging as a high-demand skill; these are people with strong computer skills.

The construction industry is a vibrant, growing sector that needs self-driven problem solvers who are up to a challenge – there are many routes in and the skills learned are transferable throughout the world.

My advice? Don’t stand in your son’s way if he has discovered a career route that excites and motivates him.