One in four building contractors have suffered cancellations or suspensions of projects due to Covid-19 restrictions, according to a new survey.
It also found that 29pc of subcontractors in the Irish and British construction sectors have cut their workforce in the past six months.
Many sub-contractors fear a growing skills shortage in the sector as the threat of further restrictions that could curtail the construction sector grows.
The survey was carried out by US software designer Autodesk, which develops construction-design tools used by many large Irish building firms and which now employs 250 people here since opening its EMEA headquarters in Dublin last year.
Jim Lynch, vice-president and general manager of Autodesk Construction Solutions, who is based in Boston, said that despite the difficulties faced by construction companies in Ireland, it was a much better situation here than in the US.
"It's a challenging time for certain for the industry, but I'd applaud the overall plan that Ireland has put in place," he said.
"I think it is critically important that if there is a move to Level 4 restrictions that construction projects are allowed to continue. If I’m an investor looking to build a data centre or a factory and I understand that even in a Level 4 or 5 condition that a country like Ireland is allowing construction to happen then I think that’s actually good for the economy.”
While the company does expect to see a decline in commercial construction over the next couple of years, both in Ireland and globally, Lynch said other parts of the sector were likely to take up the slack.
“By 2050 there’s supposed to be two billion more people on the planet. There’s just not enough housing, there’s not enough schools, not enough hospitals for those people,” said Lynch. “There is expected population growth of a million people by 2040 in Ireland and that means half a million homes will be needed,” said Lynch. “So we know the need is there and what we need to do is figure out how we keep construction teams on the job site during Covid, while keeping them safe and keep them distanced. That is where technology plays a role,”
Autodesk remained upbeat about its own wider business and its presence here.
“We’ve 250 people today but we’re absolutely growing that office across all functions, including our construction business. So our inside sales, our business development reps, we’re building that all out in Ireland and expect to continue to do that. As a company we continue to hire, we continue to grow and we’re optimistic about the future,” said Lynch.