In his report on behalf of FÁS, John McGrath said 20,000 jobs will be created in other sectors of the industry, meaning a net loss of 56,000.
The CIF said the figures from by FÁS were a “worst-case scenario”, but the undoubted downturn in the industry made it clear that the Government must push ahead with its capital expenditure programme.
Martin Whelan of the CIF said there were a number of factors which had led to the downturn and a change in those conditions, such as an improvement of international fortunes, could see the construction industry bounce back very quickly.
He said figures from the Central Statistics Office showed there would be an ongoing demand for housing and, to cater for that demand, there would need to be 55,000 house completions this year.
“There is a feeling that things will pick up quickly,” Mr Whelan said.
SIPTU said the Government had no choice but to act to avert what would be a “devastating blow not just to construction but the wider economy”.
“An obvious place to start is fast-forwarding infrastructural projects under the National Development Plan,” said Eric Fleming, the union’s national organiser in the construction industry.
“It should also be investing more in social housing for the many young couples who cannot afford to buy their own homes,” said Mr Fleming.
“Now is the best possible time to award these contracts. It will of course take courage to do so. So will grasping another nettle that successive governments have avoided — curbing development land prices.”
He said with reasonable land prices, builders could still make a profit on houses sold at affordable prices.