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Understanding Ireland’s Construction Skills Shortage – And What Can Be Done About It…



“While students are more open to the idea of construction careers, they are being influenced by previous generations’ reservations”


Changing urban skylines, cranes stretching to the heavens, and the continuous hum of machinery paint a picture of Ireland’s bustling construction industry. But beneath this façade lies a more complicated narrative: a massive talent shortage, a sector grappling with outdated perceptions, and the economic ramifications of a workforce that doesn’t mirror the diverse population it serves. At Townmore, we are on the frontline of this struggle and we are on a mission to showcase what a career in construction actually looks like in 2023! You can read more about this here:


The Root of the Crisis

The 2008-2013 downturn scarred Ireland’s construction sector. Many lost their jobs, which led to parents actively dissuading their children from pursuing construction careers. Consequently, a generation turned their backs on a once-thriving industry. This shift in perception has led to a gap in the workforce, with a deficit of skilled workers and an estimated need for 50,000 more by 2030. Interestingly, the Department of Further and Higher Education found a significant discrepancy between students and their parents. While 76% of parents viewed construction as financially unstable, only 33% of students agreed. This generational divide shows that while students are more open to the idea of construction careers, they are being influenced by previous generations’ reservations.


New Strategies on the Horizon

Addressing this crisis head-on, the Government recently unveiled the ‘Careers in Construction Action Plan’. A multifaceted approach aiming to revamp the sector’s image, promote gender inclusivity, and provide flexible working environments. The introduction of the Mobile NZEB Training Unit, developed by the Laois Offaly Education and Training Board and the National Construction Training Campus, is a testament to the Government’s commitment to making the sector more accessible and appealing.


Revamping Educational Curricula

Enda McGuane, the newly minted president of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI), suggests the introduction of new construction-related courses at tertiary institutions. Collaborating with universities to create courses that meet industry demands, especially in the realms of sustainability, could be a game-changer. Additionally, the SCSI’s efforts in promoting sustainability within the construction framework are commendable, with annual professional development training in sustainability and new course modules focusing on this critical aspect.


Challenges in Perception and Recruitment

Data from across the industry, including our own recruiting efforts, paints a gloomy picture regarding diversity in the industry. One recently advertised Site Manager role received 120 CVs, none were from females. This gender bias isn’t just anecdotal; only about 10% of the construction workforce over the last 14 quarters consisted of women. Ireland’s first female tower crane operator, Kate Fahey, stands out as a beacon of hope for the future of the industry and, at Townmore, we are proud to partner with Kate for the #ImInConstruction campaign, which aims to correct misconceptions and shine a light on the myriad opportunities available – you can learn more about this campaign and how to get involved at


Embracing the Digital Era

As the world shifts to the digital, so does the construction sector. Economic volatility has acted as a catalyst for digital transformation in the industry. A recent Procore Technologies’ survey suggests a net increase in digital investment, with 49% of decision-makers expecting a rise in projects over the next year. However, while digital evolution is in progress, it’s essential to remember that real people drive the industry, and without addressing the talent shortage, this digital growth may be short-lived.


The Way Forward

The construction sector in Ireland – and indeed globally – is at a pivotal juncture. While the talent crisis and gender bias remain significant hurdles, initiatives by the government, SCSI, and private players give a glimmer of hope. Efforts like the ‘Careers in Construction Action Plan’, the introduction of sustainability-centric courses, and digital transformation are steps in the right direction.


As an industry, we need to show potential newcomers at all career levels what a career in construction actually looks like and showcase the variety of roles available. Simply put, a career in construction is not what it used to be and we need talent from a much wider range of disciplines. 


Check out the roles currently available with Townmore: