ALMOST 30% of people working in the construction sector have left Ireland to look for work overseas during the past three years, according to new data.
According to the Irish office of international recruitment specialist, Hays, 21% of those who have emigrated headed to Britain, 23% went to mainland Europe, another 15% headed for Australia/New Zealand and 13% made for the Middle East.
“Some 42% of the respondents have left Ireland without their families, a circumstance which makes this transition abroad even more difficult, but leaves us hopeful that they will return when work picks up,” said Hays Ireland Construction & Property senior operations manager, Paul O’Donnell.
In all, Hays surveyed around 1,200 people with a construction background, last month. The survey also found that 70% of those questioned are not confident about the Irish building sector’s chances of recovery over the next three years.
The research also showed that around the same high percentage of architects, engineers and construction managers still living here are planning to move abroad if there is no sign of a pick-up in the next few years.
Mr O’Donnell added: “From conversations with our customers, many people believe recovery could take between five and ten years and to achieve even this modest ambition, Government investment will need to play a leading role.”
The new data coincides with the publication of the latest edition of the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), the main barometer measuring the state of the building industry, which showed continued decline in June.
However, while still below the neutral 50 point mark, anything above which spells positive growth, the index actually climbed from 40 points to 44.9 in June.
This means that while construction activity has now technically fallen for 37 consecutive months, June’s decline marks the slowest monthly fall since July 2007. The PMI is now at its highest reading in three years.
“The pace of decline is clearly easing back and the June survey confirmed that optimism about the future within the sector remains upbeat,” said Ulster Bank’s chief economist Simon Barry.
The lack of new business orders is keeping activity in the sector down, although June did see the weakest fall in new orders since August 2007. However, a further decline in workloads did see a continued sharp decline in employment levels, which have now fallen each month for the past 38 months.
“The latest reduction was substantial, despite being the slowest since February 2008,” said Mr Barry.
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