During Ireland’s most prosperous years, it was not plain to see, but now as we find ourselves knee-deep in a housing crisis, the enormous value of the construction industry is laid bare. Every individual in Ireland needs a place to call home. The construction industry is the backbone of our community and economy. It is what enables us to live fulfilling lives. Without basic living standards in place, we cannot progress.

The government’s Housing For All plan estimates that an average of 33,000 new homes must be provided annually until 2030 to support affordability for renters and buyers. However, the plan could fail to reach targets due to a shortage of skilled workers. SIPU’s Adrian Kane stated that Ireland needs a “serious and targeted recruitment campaign to attract skilled tradespeople and apprentices into local authorities without delay”.

Should the CAO Online System be Revamped to Allow Apprenticeships?

While over 83,000 individuals applied for placement through the CAO system in 2022, Core Research’s report, ‘Construction in Ireland 2022: Building a Workforce for the Future’, found that among 300 construction firms in Ireland, 189 had difficulty recruiting skilled workers. The three leading causes were a lack of career options, a negative perception of the construction industry and a large percentage of young people emigrating. The study reveals an enormous deficit of new workers in the construction industry.

Perhaps what is needed is a long-term plan to communicate the value of a career in construction. Construction expertise is becoming more scarce, with half of the firms in the report finding it difficult to find brick layers and plasterers and over a third finding it challenging to find carpenters.

Addressing the Image Problem

By putting apprenticeships in the CAO Online System, it helps it gain legitimacy and value in the hearts and minds of individuals considering a career path.

As countries became, more affluent and third-level education moved from a rare privilege to something accessible to all, professions in the construction industry fell out of favour. For example, a study by the National Association of Homebuilders in the US found that out of 2,000 young adults interviewed between 18-25, only 3% considered construction as a potential career path.

Perhaps to help communicate the importance of the building industry to our lives, construction firms can reach out to local school administrators. To explain the importance and need for skilled construction workers. To show what is exciting and rewarding about designing, creating and delivering homes to people in your community. By raising awareness of the industry’s real importance, we can change the hearts and minds of young people.