The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has welcomed An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s endorsement of a new Construction Sector Group involving industry and a number of key Government Departments.
Hundreds of leaders from across the Irish and international construction industries attended the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) Annual Conference in Croke Park today, to discuss the industry’s potential to deliver Ireland’s housing, employment and infrastructure needs into the future.
Construction Sector Group
Dominic Doheny, CIF President, explained the significance of the Construction Sector Group: “We will build the republic of opportunity. Bringing together the relevant Government Departments and State Agencies along with industry is a vital step in breaking the boom-bust cycle of volatility of our industry in the past.
“The prize for working together in this way is enormous. By 2030, the global construction industry will grow by 80% to $15trillion. Working together and with government, we can seize on this opportunity, significantly grow exports and generate over 100,000 jobs. This approach will lead to more return on the financial measures announced in the Budget last Tuesday. We can build the 35,000 houses per year our people need and deliver the €50billion in infrastructure our economy requires. However, this time, we can do so while building a globally recognised, competitive and modern construction industry.
Difficulties of SMEs securing finance
Tom Parlon, Director General, CIF highlighted the difficulties many SMEs are having in securing finance: “Despite recovery across most sectors in Ireland, output in the construction remains well below where it should be. The availability of skills and finance have the potential to undermine the industry’s recovery and future growth path. A new survey, published just this week by RSM and the Construction Industry Federation found that construction companies are still facing significant difficulties in accessing funding to invest in their businesses and to deliver viable housing and infrastructure projects.
“Of those surveyed, only 33% of those involved in house building obtained bank finance. 63% who sought to borrow from financial institutions in the last year reported difficulty in securing finance and this figure rose to nearly 70% amongst companies with a turnover of less than €9 million. The announcement of the Homebuilding Finance Ireland is very welcome. Now it’s down to industry and Government to ensure the rubber hits the road on this funding.”
Growing skills and resourcing challenges driven by an ageing workforce
Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Construction Consultancy said: “Ireland has many of the same symptoms of failure that I defined for the UK industry. The most telling appear to be firstly the growing skills and resourcing challenges driven by an ageing workforce and not enough new entrants. The ability of the Irish construction sector to grow following the economic crisis has been a major point of stress. This, in turn, has manifested into growing concerns, as we now have in the UK, over the quality of construction being delivered, especially in the Housing sector.”
The CIF Annual Conference is the premier event in the construction industry. The Irish economy is dependent on construction to deliver the housing, infrastructure and specialist buildings required for sustainable progress. However, Construction is currently not occurring at the optimum level required to support, facilitate and sustain the wider economy. Until the industry reaches a level of approximately 12% of GDP, Ireland’s economy will continue to underperform.
Speakers at today’s Conference included Construction Industry thought leader Dominic Thasarathar, who outlined global trends in construction, in particular, managing strategy and technological changes in the coming years; Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Construction Consultancy, who spoke about an action plan to modernise the Irish construction industry and the future of the construction industry’s labour and business model; Simon Hart, leader of the Smart Infrastructure Team at Innovate UK, who spoke about the future of a digitised construction industry.