The cranes that dominated the skyline in our large towns and cities were testimony to the booming construction industry in Ireland over the last 10 years. During the 'Celtic Tiger' this was the industry to be working in. However, the construction industry has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn and employment has fallen significantly, with building labourers the worst affected occupational group.
The construction sector has a dual role in Ireland’s economy:
- As a sector in its own right, it directly provides 96,300 regionally distributed jobs across a variety of occupations and skill levels, accounting for 5.2% of total employment and 6.4 percent of GNP. An additional 48,000 indirect jobs are provided through the sector. (Forfás, July 2013)
- The sector also provides and maintains the physical infrastructures and buildings on which other industry sectors, and society depends.
The construction sector is currently comprised of over 40,500 enterprises, almost 34% fewer than existed in 2006. Despite the reduction in number, the overall size profile remains broadly the same, with the vast majority (96.7 percent) engaging less than 10 people
For detailed information on the up-to-date situation in this sector with regard to employment opportunities and prospects please go to the "Ask the Expert" section on the right hand side of this page. Click here to access the Chartered Surveyors of Ireland report on The Irish Construction Industry in 2012.
BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION
Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
A career in construction really depends on how much physical or technical work you want and the level you decide. In order to work in any capacity on a building site you must have a Safe Pass certificate.
Careers in construction can be divided into four areas:
- Operatives or Labourers
- Craftspeople (FÁS four year apprenticeships)
- Engineers and Quantity Surveyors.
Like most areas of work it’s only when we do a little research that we begin to unravel a surprising range of both interesting and rewarding careers.
Engineering Careers - Download the 2013 Engineering Sector Overview from gradireland.com
When something is under construction or indeed in the pre-planning construction stage, it is referred to as a building project. Construction projects are varied and can include house building, building of schools and hospitals, water supply networks, transport systems, and power stations.
In order to achieve the high level of quality required in the construction industry it is important to produce highly skilled personnel who are trained to adapt to new technologies. The industry is now very much management oriented and most have third level degrees.
The construction of any major building projects is a feat of co-ordination and involves managing a range of people with specialist skills. The professionals in the construction industry are the architects who plan and develop designs for the construction; the civil engineers who evaluate, research and manage a variety of major civil engineering schemes; the building surveyors who examine existing properties advising on any defects; the quantity surveyors who calculate the cost of the building project and the much sought after construction managers who plan and manage the operations.
Each of these professionals has spent a number of years in third level education and must meet the specific requirements of their professional bodies. Others work as technicians alongside the professionals. Technicians carry out duties under the supervision of their respective professionals. They too are likely to have taken a course in 3rd Level (Level 6 or 7) in one of the IT Colleges around the country.
There are of course a very large number of trade craftspeople operating in this sector. The trades in the construction industry include 'wet trades' and 'dry trades':
- Brick and Stonelayer
- Construction plant fitter
Craftspeople in these trades have been trained as apprentices under the Designated Crafts Scheme organised by FAS (now SOLAS).
Over 40,000 people work as general operatives. In the past these jobs were referred to as labourers and regarded as unskilled. These onsite jobs have also become more specialised. Steel workers, Pipe layers, Scaffolders, Heavy goods vehicle drivers, Machine operatives and Demolition workers require a good deal of training and skill. Training is sometimes offered ‘on the job’ but an approved certified course is becoming the norm. The slow down in the house-building sector is expecting to see no further increase of employment for general operatives in this area and indeed has made it very difficult to get apprenticeships.
Overall though, in spite of the slow-down, opportunities will remain into the future especially for those with specialist and professional skills.
THE PROPERTY SECTOR
There are many careers in the Property area so you can choose which area to specialise in - from commercial property to planning and fund management.
- Commercial property:
This involves services related to the ownership and occupation of property used for commercial purposes, such as offices, shops and warehouses. This is one of the biggest and most popular sectors – and one of the most competitive areas. You could work in an area such as occupational agency, investment or landlord and tenant.
- Residential property:
This encompasses anything from a millionaire’s mansion to affordable housing developments. Services include valuation, development, marketing, mortgage-broking and investment advice. Almost any position involves a good deal of variety – a range of property types and clients from private individuals to property developers.
Most jobs in this area require third level education, and graduates tend to find work as Valuation surveyors, Property development surveyors, Property managers, or Investment advisers.
Surveying What on Earth is surveying? Video explaining what working in land, property and surveying is all about:
Surveyors are highly trained and experienced professionals that are typically employed throughout the Construction, Land and Property sectors. They work across all aspects of the built and natural environment for a variety of employers, including auctioneers, valuers, developers, construction firms, facilities management, as well as county councils and state agencies. They generally specialise in one of the following areas:
- Quantity Surveyor –advises on the costs of developing all types of buildings and infrastructure.
- Building Surveyor – carries out building surveys and provides management and design consultancy services.
- Geomatic Surveyor–maps the built and natural environment to provide accurate spatial data which facilitates planning, development and conservation.
- Mineral Surveyor –provides expertise in the full life cycle of mineral development.
- Residential Agency Surveyor – provides professional expertise in the valuation, management, letting and sale of residential property.
- Commercial Agency Surveyor - provides professional expertise in the valuation, management, letting and sale of commercial property.
For more information of types of surveyors click here.
While the property sector has contracted in recent years, it is anticipated that there will be greater opportunities for graduates. Many large property agencies have graduate programmes which provide excellent training in all aspects of property – from commercial (offices, retail, industrial), residential sales and lettings, professional services and property management.
In the future, graduates will enter a far more regulated property and construction sector and that high standards of education and qualifications will be a prerequisite for employers and clients in the public and private sectors. Professional membership of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland is a sign of high standards of professionalism in the construction, land and property sectors. Some courses include an industrial placement year, when students can apply their learning in the workplace, gain practical experience and forge industry links. Colleges include DIT Bolton Street and the Institutes of Technology.
Planners are involved in making long and short-term decisions about the management and development of cities, town, villages and the countryside. Most Town Planners work in the public service with local authorities but many have consultancy roles within the architecture and construction areas.
Planning is a broad area of work that requires many different skills. Some planners specialise in a particular area of work. Key planning activities include:
- researching and designing planning policies to guide development
- developing creative and original planning solutions to satisfy all parties
- consulting with stakeholders and other interested parties and negotiating with developers and other professionals, such as surveyors and architects
- assessing planning applications and enforcing and monitoring outcomes as necessary
- researching and analysing data to help inform strategic developments
- designing layouts and drafting design statements
- using information technology systems such as CAD (computer-aided design) or GIS (geographical information systems)
- attending and presenting at planning boards and appeals and at public inquiries
- keeping up to date with legislation associated with land use
- promoting environmental education and awareness
- writing reports, often of a complex nature, which make recommendations or explain detailed regulations
DIT runs a diploma in Planning and Environmental Management which trains technicians in urban and rural planning.
The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers runs several courses. For more information click here.
Auctioneers and Estate Agents are involved in the sale, letting, management and valuation of property. Generally, they work either in partnerships or practice on their own account. The career is suitable for those with an interest in people and property. With the property profession now covering such a broad range of property-related aspects, graduates may work in many different areas, such as:
- sales by auction, tender or private treaty of land or residential/commercial/investment property
- valuations for sale, purchase, letting, mortgage, rating, insurance, tax and other purposes
- handling the purchase of property or land
- letting and management of all types of property or land
- sales and valuations of fine art/antiques, plant, machinery, livestock and other chattels
- compulsory purchase order disposals/acquisitions and town planning compensation
- acting as arbitrators and expert valuers for rent review purposes
- representing either landlords or tenants in rent reviews, or in relation to lease renewals under landlord and tenant legislation
New areas such as on-line auctioneering are showing promising signs for the future. DIT, Limerick IT and Galway-Mayo IT run degree programmes in this area.
The economy has seen major new opportunities in this sector with many graduates working in areas such as banking and insurance. To practice professionally you must be fully qualified in all the legal, technical and other aspects of the business. You will also need to have an outgoing personality, like working with different people daily and have good negotiating and communication skills. To practice as an auctioneer it is necessary to have a special license issued by the Revenue Commissioners. You must be over 21, lodge a €12,700 deposit, obtain an auditor's certificate and apply to a District Justice for a certificate of Qualification. This license must be renewed annually. Visit the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers website for more information.
It's not that there is no work in construction, but it definitely has slowed down. Whilst demand for new construction in private residential and commercial segments has collapsed, there is still work in certain construction areas. The public capital programme has suffered cut backs and deferrals, nonetheless, under the Capital Investment Plan in Budget 2013 provision has been made for the building of 40 new schools and 180 other major School Projects; €2.9 billion will be spent on the national roads programme and road safety improvements, and the LUAS interconnection project is to go ahead. Water Metering Services, Social Housing Provision, and some Regeneration work will also be funded.
According to 'Ireland's Construction Sector: Outlook and Strategic Plan to 2015' (Forfás), sustaining Ireland’s position as an attractive location for investment requires the availability of grade one, headquarter type buildings, in addition to availability of suitable high-specification manufacturing and industrial units that can meet the needs of sectors such as life-sciences.
IDA Ireland report that there will be some 1,500 construction jobs over the next two years as building projects involving Eli Lily, Boston Scientific, Allergan, Microsoft, Analog Devices, Google and Apple get underway. Intel has recently been granted permission to construct a new chip fabrication plant at its Leixlip campus in County Kildare, that includes the construction of internal roads, support buildings and parking for 2,200 cars.
Some Irish construction firms have grown in scale and are competing successfully in international markets, as centres of excellence in areas such as civil and structural engineering, mechanical and electrical contracting, and power, energy and pharmaceutical construction and maintenance. Experience in developing world class high spec facilities catering to FDI pharmaceutical and ICT investments into Ireland over a number of years has helped to build a strong value proposition for Irish construction firms abroad.
There continues to be new, innovative growth areas in the sector, such as the green economy and wind energy, which could make a significant contribution to employment going forward.