Key points for selected construction craft occupations
- In 2015, there were approximately 66,000 persons employed in the selected construction craft occupations, representing 3.3% of the national workforce.
- 80% of overall employment was concentrated in construction
- In 2015, overall employment had broadly recovered to the 2010 level.
- Since 2012, employment has been increasing, particularly in the last year (by 13.4%, with a net 8,000 additional jobs created).
- Between 2010 and 2015, negative employment growth rates were observed for all occupations (excluding painters & decorators), although very modest for some occupations.
- The most pronounced decline was observed for plasterers (8.4% on average annually, or almost 2,000 persons).
- Between 2014 and 2015, employment expanded for most occupations; the largest absolute increases were observed for other construction trades, carpenters & joiners and plumbers; in contrast, decreases were observed for plasterers.
- At 66% and over, the majority of those employed in each occupation was aged 25-54; the age profile of employed plasterers, bricklayers and other construction trades workers was the most mature, with almost one quarter aged 55 or older.
- The share of persons employed in the selected construction craft occupations who had attained higher secondary/FET qualifications (at almost 65%) and lower secondary or less qualifications (at almost 25%) was well above the respective national average share of 37% and 15%.
- The share who had attained third level qualifications (at 11%) was considerably below the national average (48%).
- Employment in most occupations was almost exclusively male
- Most construction craft workers were in full-time employment; however, the share in part-time employment was above the national average for plasterers, at almost 30%.
- While the share of non-Irish national workers in most occupations was similar to the national average (15%), it was above average for plasterers, at almost 30%.
- In quarter 4 2015, the overall unemployment rate for construction craft workers (aged 15-74) measured 17% (almost double the national average rate).
Over the last year, recovery in the construction sector has been extending from commercial to the more labour-intensive residential building, resulting in employment growth in most construction craft occupations.
There was a noticeable increase in construction related job vacancies advertised in 2015, albeit with a significant share for temporary contracts. While some of the notified vacancies were arising due to replacement, as well as due to changes of employers (high turnover has been identified for a number of construction craft occupations), expansion demand was also a contributor.
There is still a considerable overhang of construction skills in the Irish labour market: in May 2016, there were over 1,600 bricklayers, 1,100 plumbers, 3,100 carpenters, 1,600 plasterers and 2,100 painters/decorators seeking employment through the Public Employment Service (PES).
It should be noted, however, that a significant number of job seekers in each of these occupations has a Leaving Certificate or lower level of qualification. As a result, the availability of qualified tradespersons (i.e. NFQ 6 advanced certificate) may become an issue as the recovery accelerates.
Despite the excess supply of most construction skills at present, a shortage of skills has been identified for the following occupations:
- Curtain wallers
- Steelfixer, steel erectors
- Shuttering carpentry
- Shift managers and supervisors.
As the recovery in the construction industry extends beyond the larger urban areas, location and geographic mobility are expected to emerge as factors in rendering some construction skills difficult to source.
In addition, the current level of apprentice intake, particularly in wet-trades, is low. As it takes four years for an apprentice to fully qualify, the training output is likely to lag behind the demand arising from the anticipated strong growth in residential development. This may lead to shortages in the medium term.