Sunday, April 10, 2016

Irish Construction Sector Ready for Take-Off

Ireland's construction sector has always been a lagging economic indicator - meaning that it is often the last industry to rebound following a Recession. And this last great economic contraction - starting in 2009 - hit the construction industry hard. Thousands of construction workers lost their jobs while many of Ireland's contractors were decimated. 

In short Ireland's construction sector was creamed. Even sadder, skilled workers across the sector - everyone from guys who liked to hit a nail to plumbers and electricians to talented estimators - left the country in search of work. 

Their absence left a huge hole in Ireland's skills market. But the good news is: Ireland's construction sector is starting to rebound and the hunt is on to fill the country's gaping skills shortage.

20 Percent Growth Forecast

Three days ago The Irish Times reported that the construction sector is set to grow by a whopping 20% in 2016. This, of course, is off a very low base. But it's indicative of the positive economic pressures that are finally pushing construction forward. And a quick explanation of those factors:

When the Great Recession swept the country Ireland's banking sector became a train wreck in action. Most banks required a government bail out to survive. Some failed. Others deserted the market. Lending dried up because banks were in no position to take a risk. They became very wary of mortgages or loans to the construction sector because they'd lost their collective shirts in this area. Ireland's infamous housing bubble had much to do with this. Banks were extending favourable loans at the top of the market, and in many cases were using the house itself as collateral. But when the market collapsed, the market price of many houses was often vastly lower than the mortgage owed by the owner. Many mortgage holders defaulted which caused the banks serious financial stress.

To stymie a reoccurance of any future possible housing bubble, Ireland's Central Banks also passed tough new regulations requiring those who today apply for a mortgage to come up with 20% of the house purchase price in cash. Many can't afford to do that. have a couple of negative pressures here: a banking system that is wary of giving mortgages, and new mortgage rules that require buyers to come up with lots of cash. Both factors stifle mortgage demand.

But then there are the positive factors: 

During the years since the recession, the country has undergone additional population growth. More people mean more demand for housing. But - and a big but - since 2009 very little new housing stock has been built. Consequently and as of this writing, there is a huge demand in the market.People need places to buy or rent, yet everything from single family houses to apartment stock simply has not been built. And these people need a place to live.

You don't have to be Adam Smith to know what's going to happen: demand for limited stock will push up prices (which is already happening, and in some cases is now unaffordable to most buyers). Construction companies will see the potential for profits and go back to their banks for loans. The banks will, at first, baulk at the idea because they've already been burned. But then - they'll also see the potential for profits. They'll start lending again. And other 'foreign' banks - seeing a possibility for growth in Ireland - will enter the market. Too, there is talk of relaxing some of the Central Bank's mortgage restrictions.

Add all this up and over the next few years Ireland's construction industry is going to witness absolutely stunning growth. To support that, they need employees.

So if you have a skill in the construction sector: if you swing a hammer, put up sheet rock, like throwing up slate roofs; if you're an electrical engineer or an estimator or an architect or have any of the thousands of construction-related skills that Ireland has lost and needs again,

Maybe it's time to start looking here.

I took a look on Google. A  good site seems to be
or simply google Construction Jobs Ireland and a good few sites come up.

Good luck!

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  1. How likely are Irish construction companies to hire US workers? I am a Construction Project Manager that is looking to move to Ireland to be closer to wife's family. I am aware Irish and UK construction is an easier transition, but what about for Americans? Apart from talks of visa issues (which are not relevant for my case) I can't find much information on the matter.

  2. Hey Eric and good morning to you. Okay, let's look at your question:

    1. Visa - You say Visa issues are not relevant for my case. Is your wife Irish? If so, you have the right to work here. However, it's my understanding that you'll have to contact the powers that be (Dept of Justice) for permission to work. If you move and stay here, you'll eventually be able to apply for Irish citizenship which will completely resolve any work-permission issues you may have here.

    2. Hiring US workers - my answer is 'why not?' When I moved here all those years ago I had the same worry - Why would someone hire me rather than a local person? But if you can demonstrate high skill levels, and show you'll add value, you should have the same opportunities as anyone. However - potential employers will critically examine your work status. Which is why permission to work in this country is so important for you.

    3. Present construction industry trends - as I wrote in this post the industry is truly ready for take-off. There is a skills shortage. However, and just to be clear: the industry is not growing as fast as it might due to a failure by banks to lend money. Banks in Ireland are still recovering from the Great Recession and some still have huge non-performing loans on their books. So they are being very careful. There's a huge pent up demand for private housing - which is currently not being met due to lack of cash. Eventually this should right itself. But it's something to keep in mind as you consider your options here. I wish you so much luck. Oh! And remember: the most effective way to get a job here is by networking thru family and friends. In that your wife's people are from here perhaps you might start there. My very best - Tom