Rose Martin hears about a crisis among property professionals.
IT has been called a middle-class recession and while jobs have been lost to a highly-educated workforce, the professional classes in the construction industry are now a large component of the country’s dole queues.
Surveyors, the low-key but vital component in that industry have been dealt a huge blow in the past year.
And a new report from the Society of Chartered Surveyors, the representative body for the country’s practitioners, shows an overall drop of 26% in employment in the sector, but this aggregate figure hides losses of more than 50% in some areas of the profession.
The society is worried — very worried — and they have collated their figures in a last ditch attempt to have Government retain major infrastructural projects.
President of the SCS, Sean McCormack described the figures as alarming: “This is not a time for platitudes and hand wringing at rising unemployment. Our members need to see the government taking decisive action now.
“With falling tender prices providing excellent value for money this is the time to act — not two years down the line when the skills and experiences accumulated over the last 20 years will be lost.”
McCormack expects the 26% figure to rise to more than 30% in June with a severe impact on graduate, or probationer surveyors.
Their numbers will be affected to the extent that the SCS expect 53% of graduates, over half, will be out of work by June.
Within the industry, the steepest fall was amongst quantity surveyors, along with those in general practice and building surveying — these are the frontline areas of the construction industry.
Munster has seen the greatest fall in employment levels, with Ulster coming out top of the list in employment terms.
“While we will do our utmost to assist members experiencing difficulties we need the government to step up to the plate and introduce innovative policies.
“Many other governments, most notably the US and UK have come forward with anti-recession stimulus measures to assist the private sector like investing in infrastructural works, schools, hospitals etc,” says McCormack.
And the SCS president suggests a recession as a good time to take an overview on element of the property market, like stamp duty reform on commercial and residential property and a ‘sorting out’ of local authority housing lists along with an expansion of local authority home loans.
The changes have never been more desirable, or achievable, he says and would stimulate employment in a sector which is perilously close to crisis unemployment levels.
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