Key points for selected construction professional and associate professional occupations
- In 2014, there were approximately 19,000 persons employed in the selected construction professional and associate professional occupations, representing 1% of total national employment (Figure 9.9.1)
- Almost 85% of overall employment was at professional level
- Just over 60% of overall employment was concentrated in professional, scientific and technical activities (mostly architectural and engineering activities), a further 15% was in public administration and defence; only 4% was in construction
- Between 2009 and 2014, employment in the selected occupations contracted at an average annual rate of 3.5%, compared to the national average rate of 0.5%; employment contracted for all occupations (excluding the combined group ─ architectural technologists, construction project managers & surveyors); the strongest pace of decline was recorded for architects & town planners (8.4% on average annually) and civil engineers (3.5% on average annually)
- Over the five-year period, overall employment levels contracted by almost 4,000; the most pronounced absolute employment decrease was recorded for architects & town planners (Figure 9.9.2)
- While overall employment expanded by 2.1% between 2013 and 2014, employment levels remained relatively static
- Approximately 90% of all employed construction professionals were aged 25- 54; the share was almost 80% for construction associate professionals
- Almost 95% of construction professionals in employment were third level graduates; the share was 76% for construction associate professionals
- Most persons employed in each occupation were male; the workforce of architects & town planners had the highest representation of females, at almost one-third.
Following several quiet years in relation to the demand for construction skills, a number of vacancies for construction professionals and technicians were observed in 2014. While some vacancies were arising due to replacement demand and turnover within employment, growth in construction activity has also been a contributor. The seasonally adjusted volume of production index in building and construction has been gradually increasing since 2012. In fact, growth is expected to accelerate in absolute and relative terms over the medium term, as the sector recovers from the collapse which followed the bursting of the housing bubble.
The initial growth has been concentrated in commercial construction and resulted from expansion in other sectors, namely biopharma/ medical, utilities and ICT. Further growth in commercial building is confirmed by recent job announcement (e.g. Bausch and Lomb (pharma manufacturing), EPS (water and wastewater treatment), Apple (new data centre)).
Growth in residential construction is also expected to gather pace, given recent signals from the property market: the monthly residential property price index has been increasing almost continuously since March 2013 (albeit some price stabilisation was observed in recent months) and the volume of production index has been increasing since quarter 1 2014.
There is significant graduate output from construction related courses (over 1,500 annually at level 8 or above). In addition, some overhang of construction skills is still present (in May 2015, there were 200 job ready civil engineers and 160 architects seeking employment). The supply from these sources is likely to be sufficient to meet the requirement in the short run.
Nonetheless, shortages of the following skills have already been identified:
- Construction and quantity surveyors
- BIM (building information modelling, CAD).