Skills and investment in modern methods of construction critical to addressing housing issues

July 03, 2023

Skills discussion with Minister Simon Harris at Mount Lucas National Construction Training Centre focuses on the role training and upskilling will play in unlocking housing challenges

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, is calling for a significant increase in investment in construction related training programmes. Ibec believes that a stronger focus on modern methods of construction (MMC) would also enhance the supply of affordable housing in Ireland and ensure the sector is prepared for future changes.

Funding for the Further Education and Training sector would expand the provision of training provision and foster proficiency in digital and other pertinent skills required for modern construction methods including Building Information Modelling (BIM), robotics, and digital technologies.

The call was made at an Ibec and SOLAS event with Minister Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science of Ireland, in The National Construction Training Centre (NCC) at Mount Lucas. The Centre is a dedicated training, development and upskilling facility for those working or entering a career within the construction industry.

Simon Harris, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science of Ireland said: “I am delighted to be here at the National Construction Centre. The government recognises that addressing the housing challenges relies heavily on a highly skilled and productive construction sector. The NCC is not only supporting our immediate training requirements, but it also serves as a catalyst for shaping a sustainable construction sector for the future. By embracing new innovations and advanced building methods, we are laying a strong foundation for an industry that will define itself in the years to come.”

Fergal O’Brien, Director of Lobbying & Influence in Ibec, said: “Meeting the increasing demand for housing associated with a growing population will require a strong talent pipeline with a diverse supply of skills. Attracting and retaining talent in the construction sector and across its supply chain remains a barrier for meeting national targets around housing supply. The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs has estimated that to achieve the housing targets set out in Housing for All, employment in housing construction will need to increase from approximately 40,000 in 2021 to peak as high as 80,000 workers at the end of 2030.”

Andrew Brownlee, CEO, SOLAS, said: “The construction sector in Ireland and indeed across the world is currently experiencing a significant skills shortage. Research commission by SOLAS in 2022, pointed to the need for over 50,000 new entrants to the construction sector being required up to 2030. Not only is there a requirement for new entrants but also in upskilling workers in the newly emerging aspects of construction such as retrofitting and modern methods of construction.

In response to this and the continued need to build capacity in the construction sector, SOLAS has been investing in the expansion of education and training provision in this area. Working with the National Construction Campus at Mount Lucas, ETBs, and a broad range of construction stakeholders we are enhancing our construction training infrastructure and implementing new and comprehensive construction skills pathways around Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB), Certified Passive House construction and digital construction skills.