Family comes first for construction workers returning to Ireland

07/05/2019 - 11:17

By Sarah Slater

File photo

The primary reason for those working in the construction industry returning from abroad is down to family, an industry survey has found.

Up to 37% of construction companies here have hired Irish workers, who would have emigrated during the recession of 2008.

Sixty-five percent of the workers gave family as the reason for returning, with just 24% coming back for job opportunities and 0% citing pay rates.

The study commissioned by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and DIT, also points out that 86% of companies have difficulty getting skilled tradespeople and the federation has said there is the potential for a shortfall of 100,000 workers up to 2020.

The Federation said that members want the Government to do more to remove barriers for returning workers such as the lack of recognition for qualifications obtained overseas.

Nearly half of the companies who have hired returning workers deliberately targeted them. Half of the companies said there were no challenges bringing people back but 19% said the waiting time for returning workers was a problem.

Another 19% complained of "a difference in work attitude and culture" and 13% felt red tape was a barrier.

Dermot Carey, director of safety and training with the CIF said that attracting the diaspora is a short term solution but long term there is a need for more young people to learn a trade.

We should be building bridges not walls for the construction diaspora to return; the industry needs their skills and expertise to deliver housing and infrastructure.

“We are currently facing a housing crisis of large proportions, but in order to build more homes at the speed that is needed, we first must fill the skills gap and have more qualified construction workers on hand to build these homes.

“Construction companies are trying to reach out to Irish diaspora and are trying their best to entice people back from abroad.

"At a time, when wages in the industry are increasing, and demand for skilled construction workers is very strong as we struggle with a housing crisis, government inaction in this area is problematic."

He added that 50,000 jobs have been created in the construction industry since the lowest point of the recession in 2013.

“This is testament to a strong pipeline of work for the next 20 years.”

Mr Carey added that 86% of companies have difficulty getting skilled tradespeople and the federation has said there is a potential shortfall of 100,000 workers up to 2020.

“Members want the Government to do more to remove barriers for returning workers such as the lack of recognition for qualifications obtained overseas.”