The future of Ireland’s building industry is at risk due to a massive drop-off in the number of graduates emerging from construction-related courses.
Next year just 38 civil engineers will graduate in Ireland, according to three representative bodies from the sector.
The Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI), Engineers Ireland, and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) said that the country won’t have enough graduates to meet the future demand of the construction sector.
The representative bodies warned that the lack of college-leavers has become a “critical concern”.
Interest in construction-related courses plummeted following the crash.
The director general of Engineers Ireland, Caroline Spillane, said the crash scared students away from construction courses in the same way that prospective students steered clear of computing courses after the dotcom bubble burst at the turn of the millennium.
“In 2001 when the dotcom bust occurred, prospective third level students did not choose computing courses on their CAO applications and four years later there was a shortage. It is forecasted that in 2017 only 38 civil engineers will graduate in Ireland which is a direct consequence of the construction crash,” Ms Spillane said.
Ms Spillane said that there is a huge demand for various engineering skills to meet the criteria of the Government’s house-building plan.
“Civil, electrical, technological and construction-related engineering skills are in great demand to meet the requirements of our growing economy and to deliver on the Government’s capital plan which includes major development of infrastructure and housing over the next six years and beyond,” she said.
With activity in the construction industry gradually gaining pace, it is anticipated that 2,000 jobs will be created in the sector by 2019. It’s predicted that Irish graduates will only be able to fill half of them.
The jobs will be created in order to keep up with the demand for housing that is growing in line with Ireland’s economy.
SCSI director general Patricia Byron said job creation will be spread across both construction and property roles.
“Based on a conservative forecast of economic growth up to December 2019, over 2,000 new jobs are expected to be created across the surveying profession, split evenly across construction and property roles.
“Looking at current student enrolments on surveying courses, there will only be enough Irish graduates to fill half of those positions,” she said.
The calls for more graduates comes ahead of the closure of the Central Applications Office (CAO) online facility on July 1.
In 2015 the number of those applying for construction and property-related courses grew by 9pc.
However, it is believed that the area still remains very male-dominated.
The secretary general of ACEI, Dr Sarah Ingle, said engineering had yet to overcome its biggest challenge of attracting more females into the field.
“We would like to particularly encourage young women to enter this exciting field, and to take the opportunity to make a very real and lasting contribution to Irish and international infrastructure and buildings.”