Ireland needs 80,000 house builders by 2020
Ireland needs at least an extra 50,000-80,000 building workers between now and 2020 to meet demand for new housing, the Irish employers’ group IBEC said this week.
Its chief economist says Ireland has moved past its recovery phase into rapid expansion – employment is now back at 2006 levels. Gerard Brady, Ibec head of tax and fiscal policy, said that Ireland entered this year with the national accounts balanced and employment at 2006 levels.
“Since the crisis we have seen a recovery in the Irish economy which has been exceptional.
“This was driven by the strength of the Irish business model with record foreign direct investment and an increasingly global footprint from our indigenous industries.
“Because of this growth in our business substance, the economic recovery phase is now over, with 2017 seeing Ireland surpass many of the most important pre-crisis milestones.”
The most significant challenge facing the Irish economy is its ability to meet the demands of a growing population, he said, with “major challenges” in the housing sector. Irish house prices have risen by over 12 per cent in the past year.
“Our estimates today show that to meet Rebuilding Ireland’s target of 26,000 house completions along with other construction needs by 2020 there will need to be in the region of 50,000 additional construction workers.
“Meeting 40,000 housing units a year would increase this to almost 80,000 workers. Delivering on the promise of growth with stretched capacity and a tight labour market, while also maintaining competitiveness, will be a key challenge ahead for both business and the government.”
Residential construction collapsed in 2006 after a peak of 93,419 homes built that year. About 7,000 homes were built in the first ten months of last year.
The Irish government claims the official figure is ore than twice this but this has been widely disputed by independent and reputable sources, Mr Brady said it would be difficult to attract central and eastern European builders from countries like Poland this time as Ireland is far less attractive to them in 2018 than it was in 2004. Between 2005 and 2009 more than 200,000 people moved to Ireland from central and eastern Europe following the 2004 EU accession. Only 2,500 people moved to Ireland from those regions last year.
“Now that the economy has recovered one would expect that migration would pick up again, but this has not been the case. While there might be some increase post-Brexit, there is a strong chance these migration flows may not recover.”
“In 2017, Irish rents grew at over six times the median of the other EU15 countries,” Ibec said.
The main question facing the economy in the next few years is how it meets the needs of a growing population, with major challenges apparent in the housing sector.
He said: “Delivering on the promise of growth with stretched capacity and a tight labour market, whilst also maintaining competitiveness, will be a key challenge ahead for both business and the government.”