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Builders warn of skills shortage after increase in house building

Builders are warning of a looming skills shortage as new figures show their industry continues to expand on the back of the Republic’s housing squeeze.

The Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), published on Monday, shows that house building drove a sharp increase in activity in the sector in March despite disruption caused by heavy snow early in the month.

The index, which follows the sector’s performance on a monthly basis, hit 57.5 in March, indicating a spurt in growth.

The PMI takes 50 as its benchmark. Any reading above that figure indicates that the industry expanded on the previous month, while any result below that indicates that it shrank.

March’s reading was down on the 59.2 recorded in February, but Simon Barry, Ulster Bank’s chief economist, Republic of Ireland, said that this reflected problems caused by the bad weather early in the month.

“Despite having to contend with adverse weather during the early part of the month in particular, Irish construction activity continued to expand at a very brisk pace in March,” he said.

While the entire industry grew, Mr Barry noted that strong growth in house building led the way.

This element of the index recorded a figure of 60.3 in March, indicating strong growth on the previous month. February’s reading was 61.

Builders hired more workers in March, with Ulster Bank saying that the industry’s job-creating rate reached a seven-month high.

News of the growth and demand for new workers prompted the Construction Industry Federation to warn that the State needs to support the recruitment of apprentices and students to avoid a skills shortage by 2020.

Federation spokesman Shane Dempsey said that in 2016 the industry estimated that it would need 112,000 new employees by the decade’s end.

However, he pointed out that this was based on the need to build 25,000 new homes a year, a figure that now stands at 35,000.

At the same time, projected growth in State spending on roads, schools and other similar projects is far higher than it was two years ago.

“It’s a huge challenge,” Mr Dempsey warned. “We had 27,000 apprentices at the height of the boom, it’s now at 2,000 to 3,000. We need to range that up to 5,000 or 6,000 a year by 2020.”

He added that the education and training system would have to increase its intake of trainees and undergraduates in building-related courses.

The federation spokesman also expressed concern at the low rate of recruitment of women to these courses. He stressed that the industry could not limit itself to hiring from just half the population.

Monday’s figures from Ulster Bank show that both commercial building and civil engineering, which is mostly State-backed large construction projects, also grew in March.

“Furthermore, confidence levels among Irish construction firms clearly remain very buoyant as sentiment was little changed from February at levels that are amongst the highest on record,” Mr Barry said.

“Over 63 per cent of firms expect activity to increase in the coming 12 months, underpinned by confidence about the prospects for both the wider economy and construction industry itself.”


Published inIndustry News
Cairn sells 48 homes at Glenheron for €25m on first day

‘Extraordinary’ sales demonstrate strength of market, says Cairn Homes chief executive

Builder Cairn Homes sold 48 houses for more than €25 million on the first day it opened a new development to prospective buyers.

Dublin- and London-listed Cairn opened a newly built estate at Glenheron, Greystones, Co Wicklow on Saturday.

Cairn said it sold 48 homes there for a total of €25.15 million on the first day, a reflection of the Republic’s demand for housing.

Buyers paid €435,000 for three-bedroom semi-detached houses, between €495,000 and €510,00 for four-bedroom homes and from €550,000 to €700,000 for detached dwellings.

Twenty five of the homes sold on Saturday were completed while 23 were under construction.

Michael Stanley, Cairn’s chief executive, said the customers were a 50-50 mix of first-time buyers and families trading up from other properties.

He described the sale as extraordinary. “There has been good demand across all our developments this spring but this is the clearest demonstration I have seen of the strength of the market for well-built homes,” he said.

Cairn built 50 homes during phase one of Glenheron. The company sold 25 of these “off plans” while it was still building them.

The builder is working on a further 192 dwellings in the second phase of the same development.

Cairn is building more than 3,500 houses on 11 different sites in greater Dublin. It plans to begin construction on several more developments later this year.

The company hopes to sell a block of 120 apartments on Dublin’s Hanover Quay in a single deal early next year.

Cairn reported last month that it earned pre-tax profits of €6 million in 2017, turning around a €2.8 million loss the previous year.

The company sold 418 new homes last year at an average of €315,000. At the time that Cairn reported its 2017 results, Mr Stanley said the builder hoped to construct 1,300-1,400 dwellings a year.

Cairn floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2015 and listed in Dublin last year.


Published inIndustry News
Iron Man Pilot Braves the Longest Zip Wire in Europe

Richard Browning is a UK inventor and he has done the impossible. He has successfully flown his jet-powered suit up to the longest zip wire in Europe. He managed to achieve speeds up to 100km/h and he is known for being the real-life iron Man. He is the founder and the test pilot at the Gravity Industry and he has stated that the zip wire is over a mile long and that this offered the perfect chance for him to fly the suit at a very high speed. He has worked in collaboration with the team over at Zip World and they have successfully built a safety device that gives them the chance to fly at very high speeds. These speeds are well over 100mph and last year a former marine was able to set the record for the fastest speed in a jet suit. This was done at 32.02mph, so this is an incredible feat to say the least.

The marine was able to achieve this over a lake at the Lagoona Park which is located in Reading. Those who work in construction jobs and engineering jobs will find this especially interesting, as it just goes to show how many advancements we have made over the last few years and how far things have come.

The suit is made up of four miniaturised motors and it also has an arm mounted turbine engine. There are also two hip mounted versions and these can provide 22kg of thrust. This ultimately means that the wearer can fly and the suit can also be piloted as well. The suit is completely controlled by the body movement of the pilot. This ultimately means that the suit is an Iron Man suit and that it is an incredible build.

Published inIndustry News
Amorphous 3D Printed Models Show More Promise Than Ever

Those who work in construction jobs and engineering jobs will understand more than ever how important amorphous models are. That is why researchers have worked diligently to create amorphous metals, or as they are better known, metallic glass alloys via 3D printing. They have been known to be brilliant and lighter weight when compared and this is a great advancement.

Metallic glass doesn't have the crystalline structure when compared to most metals and when you look at the amorphous structure, you'll soon find that it has exceptional properties. When you do fabricate metal glass, you'll find that you have to heat and cool it rapidly as this helps to stop the crystalline structure from forming. This has made researchers very restricted with casting metallic glass in very small thicknesses and amorphous iron alloys cannot be cast more than a couple of millimetres thick. This limitation is otherwise known as being casting thickness. The technique works when you apply a laser to a piece of metal powder before you try and melt it.

This is proof that when you demonstrate technique, you could not produce any more amorphous alloy. If you are looking for some magnetic glasses you will soon see that they have quite a lot of enormous potential and you will also find that they have the potential to reduce heat and even waste as well.

This is proof that there has certainly been an advancement when it comes to 3D printed models and it is able to improve the amount of structures that can be formed at any one time. Of course, with 3D printed models showing more promise than ever, this is a great time to live in and this is especially the case when you look at the purpose it can have in engineering or even construction.

Published inIndustry News
Environmental Liability for Construction Firms

Protecting the environment is a very important issue and now it is going to be an even bigger part in construction jobs and engineering jobs. Associated legislation is going to continue to grow and it is also going to offer a ton of new challenges and even exposure as well. Insurance products often include certain environmental extensions and these are going to be insufficient for the needs of today's projects. This ultimately means that construction companies are going to be turning to environmental products instead and this is going to be very interesting to see.

Environmental protections and legislations are going to carry on gaining potency and this is going to be done on a huge scale. Some are even saying that this is going to be done on a global scale. Over the last 10 years, developments have carried on focusing on the key concepts and there is always going to be a lot of lot of discussion about this. This can be seen in the EU Multi-Annual Work Program.

As a consequence of this, a lot of construction companies are going to have to consider the huge impact that comes with this and the activities that they choose to carry out. They are also going to have to face financial consequences for not being compliant so this is going to affect a lot of people.

Of course, as the times change there is going to be more focus on environmentally friendly techniques and this is certainly going to be a core ideology for a lot of construction firms going forward. This is only being done to try and help certain firms to make the most out of the resources that they have as well as helping them to be more environmentally friendly.

Published inIndustry News
The Industry’s Workforce is Changing

The success of the construction jobs and engineering jobs sector is crucial to nearly every aspect of the economy. Over 2.6 million people currently work in the industry and they are all providing the vital infrastructure that is required to keep the country running. It doesn't matter whether there is a hard Brexit or a soft Brexit, because it is all dependent on the amount of migrants that return home. So what options are available for the UK to use, so that the employment gaps can be filled if no foreign workers are available?

First you need to define the career path that will help to produce any operatives or even craftsmen. You also need to work out what professionals are required and what type of management will be needed as well. From this point, you can then work out what qualifications are required and what social mobility is needed as well. There is only a limited amount of the new standards that are in use, but the fact of the matter is that we will need to utilise more ways of working as well. New materials will be required and it will also be designed to boost the productivity as well. Before this can happen, employers will have to try and amend the qualifications that they have in order to respond to the immediate needs.

The government has also published a plan for the T-Levels which are at level 3. This will come in from the year 2020 and it will happen until 2024. Of course, there is no saying whether or not this will help with Brexit and there is no saying whether or not this will affect the workforce, but it is certainly a great way to boost the economy.

Published inIndustry News


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