Up to 50,000 jobs will be lost in the construction industry if the school-building programme is not continued, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) warned today.
Representatives from the construction industry met the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills to discuss the programme to which the Government has committed €579 million this year
The programme is due to create 23,500 places in 20 new schools as well as 32 extensions.
CIF policy director Martin Whelan said there would be significant job losses in the industry if the programme was stalled or abandoned.
He also expressed concern that contracts for building schools were being awarded to companies in Northern Ireland with whom local contractors could not compete.
"This is major issue for our industry. Money from the Exchequer is going to companies outside the State who don't comply with the rules," he said.
Paul Keogh, president of the Royal Institute of the Architects in Ireland said the schools programme as being "critical" to the smart economy.
He also said there needed to be a comprehensive audit of the existing stock of schoolse.
"The existing stock needs to be audited. There is no accurate comprehensive audit of what we need to do those schools to make them fit for purpose, fit for the 21st century. We could get unemployed architects and surveyors to carry it out," he said.
He said he was "deeply concerned" about below cost tendering which "lead to demolition of standards."
Department of Education officials denied the programme was being stalled but “recognised there were delays.”