Produced by Linesight and Irish building magazine the ‘Leaders in Construction’ 2018 Top 50 league table of Irish main and specialist services contractors provides a clear growth indicator for the construction sector in Ireland with turnover up from 2017 by 25% to €8.27bn.
The annual listing highlights the critical importance of construction to the Irish economy and exchequer. Ireland continues to win big with Foreign Direct Investments and the availability of world-class construction services is a key factor in securing these.
Colin Walsh, Media Director, Irish building magazine said: “A recent CIF/Davy Construction Industry Economic Update reported that, in 2018 over 10,000 new jobs were created in the Irish construction sector, that represents an increase of 8% year on year, bringing the construction workforce in 2018 up to 145,500.”
The Top 50 shows that Irish contractors are gaining momentum abroad with a non-Irish turnover of over €2.5 billion in 2018. In an effort to mitigate Brexit’s impact on UK activity many Irish contractors have looked to mainland Europe, the UAE and the US to develop and grow markets.
Ireland’s Top 50 main and specialist services contractors listing features exclusively in the current issue of Irish building magazine, Ireland’s leading construction sector read.
An increase of over €1.6 billion was noted from 2017-2018 representing over 25% jump for the period.
Topping the 2018 list was John Sisk & Son, which had a turnover of €1.173 billion. Second and third position is held by Mercury Engineering and BAM Contractors Limited, recording turnover of €770 million and €546 million respectively.
Since 2015 the magazine has featured a cross section of the Top 50 contractors as part of its annual ‘Leaders in Construction’ interview series and survey.
There are major positives for the industry, but there are also concerns for the contractors. The skills shortage continues to be a concern for the industry. The unsuitability of the public works forms of contract is a concern for many contractors; with some promoting more innovative methods of procurement, such as Integrated Project Delivery. Infrastructure investment is also a popular topic, with contractors saying that government need to identify the projects that are critical and we need to have a pipeline of work.
“The construction industry has gone through a transformational decade with the industry having returned to prosperity and now operating at a level comparative to anywhere in the world. The Industry is working smarter through its use of digital construction technologies. Working safer, with a committed focus on the Health, Safety & Wellbeing of construction workers and striving to become more inclusive and diverse,” said Colin Walsh.
Construction Workers Wanted!
Speaking after the publication of Irish building magazines ‘Leaders in Construction’ issue Tom Parlon, CIF Director General said: “The CIF is happy to see such a large increase in the number of construction workers joining the industry last year, and we will continue to encourage more and more people into the industry. While we celebrate the additional 10,600 workers in 2018, we must continue striving to address the skills shortage we find ourselves facing, particularly in wet trades. The CIF is committed to not only attracting younger people into the industry, but also to making the construction industry a more diverse and inclusive environment. The 20% increase in investment seen in 2018 shows a very positive outlook for our industry in 2019 and makes it a more attractive option for new workers.
“However, we will continue to address the growing disparity between Dublin and Ireland’s regional counties in relation to construction activity and employment. CIF’s recent national crane count highlighted the need for greater investment and employment in all areas outside the capital. While there are many positives to be taken from this CIF report, we must also remember that there is still much work to be done.”
The construction industry is now far removed from its traditional image and offers great opportunities to young people. John Sisk & Son is a good example of this. Sisk Chief Executive Stephen Bowcott said: “Just over half of our staff are under the age of 40, while 22% are between 21 and 30. We have a very aggressive programme of internship and take over 20 graduates to our accelerated graduate programme. We also have our own training and apprenticeship school.”
Work-life balance is a priority for Sisk. “Everybody has to leave work at 3pm on a Friday and we’re trying to ensure that everyone works a maximum of 45 hours a week by 2020. We’re also asking people not to travel more than 2,500 business kilometres a month.”
Construction is critical for Foreign Direct Investment
Irish contractors’ ability to deliver projects is critical to attracting and retaining FDI clients, and this has been expressed by contractors since the ‘Leaders In Construction’ series started. Speaking to Irish building magazine, Michael Lohan, IDA Ireland Head of Life Sciences & Strategic Property said: “The strategic importance of a proactive property & construction ecosystem is internationally proven to be a key driver and differentiator in winning, sustaining and supporting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). As such, the timely provision and availability of appropriate & cost-effective property solutions remains critical in continuing to retain and attract mobile investment in an ever-evolving international market place.
“Ireland’s property and construction sector is one of the main elements of Ireland’s value proposition to prospective clients across all the targeted sectors and activities and is frequently the differentiator in the international marketing effort to secure investment wins. The construction sector in Ireland is a proven performer with the necessary skills and ability to ensure projects are delivered on time, competitively and embracing of innovation, sustainability and quality.”
Infrastructure spending is critical, and contractors want to know what major projects are coming. Stephen Bowcott says the biggest issue at the moment is lack of infrastructure spend in Ireland. “Our civil engineering business is struggling because there’s very little public works out there. There’s plenty in tender but none of them are landing on the ground and I genuinely think it’s because the government departments are overly cautious as a result of events around other public forms of contracts.”