Nearly half of Irish construction leaders fear Brexit

New PwC findings on the state of the industry...

Almost half of Irish construction leaders believe their business would be hit if the UK was to leave the European Union.

The findings of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey come after British opinion polls over the weekend showed the outcome of the Brexit referendum in 10 days is too close to call.

Ulster Bank revealed construction growth eased for a third straight month in May, as business confidence dips ahead of the June 23rd vote.

The Ulster Bank construction purchasing managers index dropped to 55.9 last month, down from 56.4 in April.

Remaining above the key 50 level means that activity has expanded for the 33rd consecutive month. However, the growth rate is at its slowest since last November as housing activity and new orders eased.

The PwC report did find two-thirds of industry leaders plan to expand their workforce this year.

Talking to Business Breakfast this morning, PwC’s real estate manager Niall Cogan said:

"Overall, the outlook is quite favourable, neck-on-neck with last year."

In terms of challenges to the sector, Cogan said “access to finance” was still an issue, whilst the skills gaps will need to be addressed:

"As we ramp up construction activity, can we get the necessary people to perform the work?

"65% [of construction leaders] said they are experiencing issues in actually recruiting different people. It’s not surprising – a lot of people have left the country, a lot of people have probably re-skilled.

"The number of people completing engineering-related degrees or apprenticeships has probably fallen over the last decade."