The construction industry will move to sustained growth, creating thousands of jobs in the coming years if it is given a push in the right direction in this year’s Budget, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). The CIF believes that the industry is on the verge of recovery and that some Budget measures of support will expand activity in the sector, generating an increased number of construction jobs throughout the country.
Speaking at their annual conference the CIF also said that while any stimulus measures in the forthcoming Budget will have a major impact on construction and employment, in the medium term it will be up to private sector working with construction companies to grow the industry.
The CIF’s Annual Conference, entitled “The move to stimulus” took place in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Over 200 people from throughout the construction industry attended the conference which was addressed by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD; Secretary General at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Robert Watt; NAMA Chairman Frank Daly, John Tierney of Irish Water; CBRE’s Marie Hunt; Dave O’Leary from Diageo, CIF Director General Tom Parlon and CIF President Philip Crampton.
With Budget 2014 taking place on October 15th this year, the Government’s fiscal plans for next year and for boosting construction employment were major themes of the conference. One in four of the people currently on the Live Register are former construction workers and 60% of the people who lost their jobs since the downturn were working in the construction sector.
Yet the most recent employment figures also highlighted the capacity of the construction sector to generate jobs. Between Q1 and Q2 of 2013 the number of people directly employed in the construction sector rose by 6,400 from 96,300 to 102,700.
Speaking about these issues at the conference, CIF Director General Tom Parlon said, “The construction industry is very well poised at present. Confidence has been seeping back into the sector in recent months as we have started to see a few indications of more construction activity. However if that growth is to be sustained then the Government needs to bring forward some measures of support in the coming Budget.
“If the right steps are taken we will see the construction sector move to sustainable, measured growth. No one wants to see the economy being dependent on the construction sector again. However a healthy, active construction industry is a vital part of any functioning economy.
“By the Government’s own figures our industry should be operating at twice its current size. If we are to achieve that we will need a push in the right direction from the Government. However we also acknowledge we can not just be dependent on the public purse. In the medium term we need to get the private sector investing in the construction industry too.
“To achieve a healthy construction sector we need the Government to lay the foundations now and then it will be up to the private sector and the construction companies to build from there.
“Having an active construction industry is important because our sector can create a lot of jobs quickly if activity starts to rise. With so many former construction workers on the dole no other industry has the capacity to create a large number of jobs as fast as the construction sector.
“Large numbers of these people would not require retraining. If there was increased construction taking place thousands of people could move seamlessly from the dole queues to the ranks of the employed in a very short period.
“Additionally the impact of these jobs would not be limited to a particular region, the benefits will be spread throughout the country. Every town and village in Ireland would notice a positive difference if there was a boost in construction activity and employment.
“We’re on the verge of a sustained recovery and we think if the right choices are made this will be very good for the jobs situation in this country and for the economy as a whole,” Mr. Parlon concluded.