Belfast Telegraph

Construction skills shortage is a major concern in Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland is facing a skills shortage within the construction industry and not enough homes are being built here, it's been claimed.

And John Armstrong of the Construction Employers' Federation - which represents around 1,000 firms across Northern Ireland - said it was "vitally important" that more homes are built.

Revised targets in 2012 said that some 190,000 additional houses should be built in Northern Ireland - equating to around 11,000 each year, the CEF managing director told yesterday's Council of Mortgage Lenders conference in Titanic Belfast.

"We not building or completing enough houses in Northern Ireland. In fact it's about 50% of what we need," he said.

Mr Armstrong said other problems facing building include levels of regulation and access to finance. "My industry, in 2007 we engaged about 86,000 people - about 50% of those were employed, and about 50% self-employed. That total figure has dropped to just over 60,000, so it is a huge loss of jobs within the construction industry.

"The implications going forward are profound, because I believe we are facing huge skills shortages within the Northern Ireland construction industry. Our estimate of the top 20 construction companies in Northern Ireland, 90% of their turnover is actually in other parts of the British Isles - that's a major concern.

"Young people are moving away, and are not coming in to construction, and particularly house building at the moment."

Belfast Telegraph