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Wednesday 28 September 2016

Building boom hopes tempt students, but more needed

Published 22/08/2016 | 06:00

Tom Parlon, director general of the Construction Industry Federation
Tom Parlon, director general of the Construction Industry Federation

Construction-related courses have shown some big points jumps this year, fuelled by promises of a return of the building boom.

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Honours degree architecture courses have seen an across-the-board increase, with University College Dublin's (UCD) programme jumping up to 515, from 490 this time last year, while its structural engineering with architecture course showed a massive 65-point rise to 475.

In another sign of growing confidence in the building and property sectors, Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) has seen increases of up to 30 points in its architecture-related courses, with a similar trend in the University of Limerick.

The big points jumps are not surprising given the overall 20pc rise this year in CAO applications for courses leading to careers in the built environment.

Construction Industry Federation (CIF) director Tom Parlon said a student graduating from a construction-related discipline had a lot to look forward to upon finishing third level.

He said Irish construction companies were building specialist buildings, infrastructure and homes, both at home and across the globe, and as economic recovery continued, it would go hand in hand with a demand for new construction projects.

He also warned of a looming skills shortage if the Government did not implement the right educational and training policies for the industry.

Mr Parlon said there was unprecedented hiring activity, particularly for architects and property workers, and that the CIF would shortly begin a campaign aimed at the diaspora, encouraging them to come home to work in construction jobs.

Engineers Ireland registrar Damien Owens stressed that for significant infrastructure initiatives like the Government's new Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness - which is promising 25,000 new homes a year by 2020 - to succeed, Ireland needed to produce more engineers at a quicker rate.

Mr Owens said while the upturn in student interest in construction-related courses was extremely positive, the economic demand for engineering skills in this area continued to totally outstrip supply.

He said in civil and environmental engineering, the number of honours third-level graduates next year would be down to less than 10pc of the 2014 number, and it is expected that there will be no building-services graduates at all.

He said to really progress Government projects like the Housing Plan, Ireland must rapidly increase the rate at which it was producing engineers.

Irish Independent

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