We were delighted with the success of the ‘Opportunities for Construction Companies 2019’ breakfast briefing we hosted at the Red Cow Moran Hotel, on 21st November last. The breakfast briefing, chaired by businessman Bobby Kerr, included speakers Oliver Mangan, Chief Economist, AIB; Terry McAdam, Management Consulting Partner, RSM; Mark Lohan, Managing Director, Brooks Group; and Jeanette Mair, Economic and Policy Research Executive, CIF. 

Opening the presentations, Jeanette Mair, CIF, discussed the €7.3bn in capital investment in 2019 boding well for the construction sector as well as the employment trends in the industry.

“Capital investment in 2019 will be 23.6% greater than it was in 2018,” she said, “and the amount allocated is broadly in line with the overall allocation set out in the National Development Plan (NDP) for next year.”

Jeannette also said that according to the Labour Force Survey by the CSO, nine out of every 10 jobs lost since the crisis have been recovered and one in every 15.5 jobs in Ireland is in construction.

Before providing helpful steps to improve construction prospects in 2019, Jeanette gave an insight into housebuilding and Capital Projects in Ireland as well as the drive for innovation in construction as part of her address.

“2019 is all about improving construction productivity, the construction industry has the biggest appetite for change and embracing technology”

She also reported that initial research findings by the CIF point to productivity improvements being driven by digital trends, labour shortages and efficiency gains.

Oliver Mangan, AIB, provided the economic outlook for 2019 with Brexit being the central theme.

He said that economic indicators remained upbeat and the unemployment rate was falling to 5.4% in 2018. He added there was still much uncertainty about Brexit and it is expected to lower the growth rate of the Irish economy. ESRI estimated that Irish output would be reduced over time by 2 – 2.5% on a soft Brexit and a sharp fall-off in trade with the UK would be likely on a no-deal, hard Brexit.

Terry McAdam, RSM, outlined the key challenges the construction industry may face in 2019 such as tight contract margins, managing operational contract risk as well as addressing the skills shortage and explained in his presentation how Lean may help businesses going forward.

“Lean being the form of continuous improvement,” explained Terry McAdam, “focuses outwardly on being flexible to meet customer demands and inwardly focused on waste and cost reduction in all processes.

“If you want to get involved in Lean methodologies, start with small steps.”

Terry introduced the 5S method as the early steps a company can take to reduce waste and improve productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace – Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardise, and Sustain.

The final speaker of the morning, Mark Lohan, Brooks Group, looked at the sector as a percentage of GDP growing from 8% this year to 12% in 2023, underpinned by a number of Government-backed plans such as Rebuilding Ireland and Project Ireland 2040.

The insightful morning concluded with a panel discussion and concluded with questions and answers. The one issue that continued throughout the discussion was the importance of a skilled workforce and the sectors ability to attract the right people to deliver on future plans.

At CPAS, we see many facets of this complex issue of retaining and attracting key staff. While companies sometimes focus on salaries alone to attract employees, CPAS has helped many employers design a complete benefits package including Income Protection and Pension Savings to help retain and recruit skilled employees. Employers who invest in their people will have greater success, and CPAS has pension and benefit consultants available to meet employers and discuss a package that could give them the edge in this area.

You can talk to one of the team at CPAS by calling 01 407 1400. To view copies of each presentation please click here.