Forfás at the Construction Industry Federation Conference 2012
Speaking at this year’s CIF conference which took place on Friday 28 September 2012 in the Aviva Stadium, Martin D. Shanahan, Chief Executive of Forfás said: “the construction sector is a major contributor to the Irish economy as an employer and in the generation of wealth. It is also a critical component of the business environment. An internationally competitive, innovative and dynamic construction sector and property market is a critically important factor of competitiveness for enterprise investment and growth and jobs.”
Forfás is currently engaged with key stakeholders in the development of a National Strategy for the Construction Sector as part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012.
With reference to the ongoing analysis by Forfás, Mr Shanahan said that the domestic construction market is currently operating at a level below what we might consider “normal” or “optimal” for Ireland. Although more analysis is required, based on past performance and expected future demand over the longer term, in particular in relation to household formation, the data would suggest that Ireland may be capable of sustaining a level of output similar to the EU average of around 10% of GDP. However Forfás’ first assessment of anticipated market demand over the next three years, and in the absence of a substantial pick-up in house building and commercial development, indicates that Ireland will be substantially below this in 2015. From an employment point of view, these initial estimates on output suggest that a substantive improvement in the level of construction employment is unlikely over this timeframe.
Mr Shanahan also commented on the opportunity for increased internationalisation within the sector, saying that the key to success will be specialisation and differentiation within the overseas marketplace.
The construction sector strategy, which is being developed by Forfás together with industry, will outline the opportunities, challenges and actions needed to realise the potential of the sector, to retain expertise in Ireland and to continue to develop capabilities over coming years.
“We need to be conscious of the market realities but there is a real imperative to ensure that we have a competitive, innovative, well-functioning and world class construction sector. Forfás will be actively consulting with firms, the various industry representative bodies, Government departments and enterprise agencies over the coming weeks to identify actionable solutions for the sector” Mr Shanahan said.
The final strategy is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.