There was great news for the Irish economy with the announcement that unemployment has fallen to 10%. Considering that in January 2012 the unemployment rate stood at 15.1%, this news is indicative of a huge recovery in the Irish economy. We still have a significant road to travel before we get unemployment rates down to 5.4%, in order to be on a par with our nearest neighbours in the UK. We are still slightly above the European average of 9.7% but are faring much better than our colleagues who found themselves in a similar position to Ireland. Greece’s unemployment rate stands at 26%, Spain 23.6%, Italy 12.6% and Portugal 13.3%.
There are currently 348,000 on the live register in Ireland, with 80,000 coming from the construction sector. In 2014, the Irish construction sector increased employment by 13,100, a very welcome development, which made a significant dent in long term unemployment figures.
The Irish Construction Federation aims to make potential employers in the construction aware of the skillset of this huge talent pool, especially if it is to effectively address the huge supply gap in the Dublin market, not to mention the government announcement of significant social housing initiative.
How can this be achieved?
The CIF recommends adding the wet trades, which is experiencing a huge dearth in apprenticeships at the moment, to the Jobs Plus Programme. The Jobs Plus Programme gives a grant of €7,500 to an employer if they employ someone who is more than one year on the live register. If they decide to employ someone who is more than two years on the Live Register, the grant increases to €10,000.
This initiative has the potential to be a major Win/Win situation for both the government and the Irish Construction sector. For the government, it will not only help to resolve the supply gap in the Dublin region but will make a significant dent in the long term unemployment figures whilst providing a significant capital injection for the Irish exchequer, when one considers that an estimated 40% of the overall price of a house goes directly into the exchequers coffers.
From the construction viewpoint housebuilding will lead to growth and increased profitability, a win/win situation for both parties.