Critical lack of construction workers in Ireland


The lack of migrant workers has stunted house building in the country, worsening the housing shortage.

Construction worker silhouette.

More workers are needed to complete outstanding housing projects in Ireland, despite unemployment in the country sitting at an all time low, according to an economic watchdog. 

New data published by the Fiscal Advisory Council (FAC) show that around 63,500 workers engaged in construction projects in 2022, compared to 115,550 in 2007. 

The level of work in 2007 coincided with the peak inward migration of 151,000 people that year.

Full scope

With rent in Ireland increasing by 6.7% due to inflation, the high cost of living could be a deterrent for migrant workers. 

Consequently, the lack of affordable housing could also lead to an increase in emigration.

Employment issues 

Regarding firms, the employment-to-population ratio continues to trend upward, with construction companies finding it difficult to hire labourers. 

FAC suggests that construction employment could increase through re-allocation of labourers from other sectors like manufacturing. 

However, workers from different sectors could be put off by construction’s scarring effects because of its collapse in the late 2000s. 

Additionally, unemployment among previously employed construction workers is at a record low because of emigration outward in 2008 to 2012. 

Housing demands 

The Stability Programme Update (SPU) 2023 forecasts that an increase of 43,000 completions is expected by 2030. 

This goal falls short of pre-pandemic estimations of 45,000 completed projects by 2024. 

Investment in housing is significantly low in Ireland compared to other European countries 

The study found that more work in construction allows for higher investment.

A significant increase in residential building activity is required to improve the Irelands stock dwellings and house building projects, 

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