Skills shortage forces construction companies to look abroad

Construction firms are increasingly meeting recruitment demands from outside Ireland and beyond the EU, to address skills shortages as the industry continues to grow strongly.

In order to address key issues such as housing and infrastructure delivery and maintain the growth, quality and capacity of the Irish construction industry into the future, many major companies are increasingly taking their talent search global.

While there has been a focus on bringing Irish talent with construction skills back from overseas in recent years and this has been a successful approach for many construction businesses, for continued growth, companies now increasingly need to access the global talent pool.

However, many Irish construction companies are unaware of how easy it is for them to employ qualified construction professionals such as Quantity Surveyors, Civil Engineers, Project Managers from abroad.

Tom Parlon, Director General, Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said: “As the Irish construction industry has continued to grow over the last number of years, many of our members have reported difficulties recruiting construction professionals such as Quantity Surveyors, Engineers and Project Managers. It is quite an exciting time for the construction industry here in Ireland with a lot of work ahead and some hugely innovative projects in the pipeline. Luckily, this is making Ireland a very attractive place for construction professionals of other nationalities, such as Brazil and South Africa. This increasing diversity within the talent pool is a very positive thing for our industry and only serves to further our international reputation for excellence in construction.”

According to survey by Azon Recruitment Group, construction professionals from outside of Ireland make up less than 10% of most companies.

Over 70% of survey respondents said that their business was not actively engaged in relocating construction professionals from abroad to Ireland to fill their vacancies.

With over 90% of respondents unaware that there are government initiatives to assist companies in sourcing and relocating talent from outside the EU. Once such support is the Trusted Partner Initiative, which came into being in 2015 and streamlines the application process for the person making the offer of employment/employers/connected persons and EEA contractors when applying for Employment Permits. The benefits of the Trusted Partner Initiative are:

  • Fast turnaround of Trusted Partner registration applications
  • Status valid for 2 years
  • No fee
  • Reduced paperwork for every permit applied for under the scheme
  • Shortened employment permit application forms
  • Faster turnaround of Trusted Partner employment permit applications

Another option for employers is to consider, Critical Skills Employment Permits, which have replaced the Green Card type employment permit. This Permit is designed to attract highly skilled people into the labour market with the aim of encouraging them to take up permanent residence in the State.

Eligible occupations under this type of permit are deemed to be critically important to growing Ireland’s economy, are highly demanded and highly skilled, and in significant shortage of supply in our labour market.

As of 1st January 2020, most professional occupations in the construction sector can now qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. Technician and construction support occupations, such as Foreman, Architectural Technician and Construction Safety Officer, can qualify for a General Employment Permit.