Architect positions lead the way as construction jobs soar

And it's luring Irish workers in the UK back home...

There has been a surge in the availability of roles for construction and property professionals in Ireland.    

Leading construction recruitment firm Hays Ireland has revealed that demand for people with professional qualifications in the sector was up 40% in July, compared to the same period in 2015.

Architects were the most sought after – up 60% – but there was also strong demand for contract managers, quantity surveyors and engineers.

Word that the market is very much recovering has clearly reached the nation's students – on Leaving Cert results day, there’s been a 20% increase in applications for construction-related CAO courses. 

According to Hays, it also experienced a 35% month-on-month increase in the number of applications from Irish construction and property workers currently based in the UK. 

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has said that foreign direct investment is leading the boost in building activity.

CIF Director-General Tom Parlon told Newstalk Breakfast that its looking good for the sector:

"With the continued economic growth, with the new housing strategy that's been announced, and the very, very substantial foreign direct investment here – there are 18 companies either currently building or planning to build data centres in Ireland at the moment, so there's a lot of activity going on."

Parlon also indicated that Ireland will need 80,000 to 100,000 additional jobs in construction over the next five year.

He said short-term challenges included a lack of supply of workers after Ireland had lost 180,000 people out of the industry in recent years.

Speaking to Business Breakfast, Hays Ireland director Mike McDonagh said that it wasn't just professional positions opening up.

"We're also seeing blue-collar workers coming into demand..." McDonagh commented. "So that's, I think, really good news for the whole economy. Smaller businesses, the SMEs in the construction sector, are starting to see some growth and some business coming through as well."

McDonagh continued that the demand is pushing pay rates up:

"It's a combination of surge in demand and lack of supply of the top-quality candidates, which is why we're doing big campaigns – and we have been probably for the last two years actually – to try to attract Irish construction professionals back home."

Of the 35% increase in Irish workers returning home, he said:

"We've been seeing a steady flow of candidates coming back from the UK anyway. That's accelerating quite significantly in the last [six to eight] weeks.

"Brexit related, currency related. The exchange rate now means that the salaries are still higher in the UK, but there's probably more equity between the UK and Ireland now."

McDonagh noted that 75% of those interviewed when coming back to Ireland are securing jobs and that the technical expertise they gain in the UK is attractive to Irish employers.

Looking to the future as the number of students considering a career in construction starts to increase, McDonagh said:

"The important now is that we've got to get those people through the system as quickly as possible and get them out into the workplace."

"We've had an unprecedented number of graduates that we've placed this year versus last year.

"So there's really good signs there that people are starting to realise that the construction sector is a good place to be in terms of job opportunities and career opportunities.