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'Govt could help create 29k build jobs'

Tuesday, May 13 15:22:35

Another 29,000 jobs could be created in Ireland's construction sector if the numbers employed could be brought in-line with EU levels.

That's according to property consultants Savills Ireland, speaking in advance of the imminent publication of the Government's construction strategy.

Dr John McCartney, Economist and Director of Research at Savills, said that a return of construction employment to EU norms should be the main goal.

"From a high of almost 13pc in 2006, the proportion of Ireland's workers employed in building is now 5.4pc, which is more than one-fifth below the EU average. The 29,000 additional jobs that this shortfall represents are not only essential for Ireland's construction sector, but also for the economy as a whole," he said.

"Despite falling unemployment and the creation of 85,000 new jobs since 2012, Ireland's economic recovery will become increasingly difficult to sustain without an uplift in construction employment. An estimated 93,000 construction workers are currently on the live register. This represents almost one quarter of all those signing-on and 39pc of all unemployed males. The skills profile of many of these workers remains best suited to work in the building industry”.

Savills say that a strategy focused on bringing down the cost of building would help kick-start activity in the sector which, in-turn, would create employment. Measures they would like to see introduced include:

McCartney said cutting VAT on new homes would boost the industry.

"Many people are unaware that builders have to pass 13.5pc of every new home sale back to the Government in VAT. If this was reduced to 9pc, as has been done in the tourism and hospitality sector, many housing schemes which cannot be profitably undertaken at current construction costs would immediately become viable”.

He added that cutting Local Authority Development Levies would also help while reducing density requirements would make building in more areas more viable.