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Broadly the global economic performance and Ireland’s position are positive for the rest of 2018. With unemployment at 6.1%, two points lower than the European average (8.6%) and trending closer to 5%, continued inward and indigenous investment along with low inflation, all signals point towards continued, sustainable improvement. Last year we suggested the real impacts of Brexit and the Trump administration may yet to be seen, and this may well still be the case. Ireland has been resilient throughout ten years of turbulence, however, so can be confident of maintaining growth. In terms of professional salaries, increases in the region of 4% have remained ahead of cost inflation and enabled the sustainability of economic (and employment) performance. Indeed the impact of new organisations (mainly financial and fintech) relocating some operations to Ireland from UK will be higher in 2018 due to the time it takes to set up financial operations. The strong sectors (ICT, pharmaceutical, financial, etc.) remain strong, with specialisms like GDPR, Blockchain (not just Bitcoin) and analytics getting the headlines in 2018. There is an on-going drive for a better regional spread for new and existing jobs. There is a salary differential in the region of 5-10% and better retention rates (and more property options), so the regions will be disproportionate beneficiaries of new job creation. 2018 Salary Guides for each discipline: Accountancy & Finance Banking & Financial Services Construction & Property Services HR Insurance IT Legal & Compliance Manufacturing & Engineering Marketing Office Support Sales Science & Pharma Supply Chain
“Demand for construction professionals rising and salaries are following.” Thoughts on the Market The Irish construction market maintained a strong level of activity in 2017 and will continue to do so in 2018. It is a busy market with robust demand for construction professionals, particularly those at the intermediate level of experience i.e. 3-5 years in a particular area. Demand for skilled professionals in construction is being driven by a number of factors including: Increase in residential projects with the government looking to make sure it achieves a target of 35,000 housing units per annum over the next few years. Continuing need for building to satisfy the demand of foreign direct investment (FDI) companies based here or planning to establish offices or plants in Ireland. There have been recent large pharmaceutical site projects in both Cork and Dublin which demonstrate the impact of FDI. Increased business confidence generally leading to companies making investment decisions regarding developments in the cities, particularly in Dublin. Unemployment is now at its lowest level since 2008, at just over 6 percent and is forecast to fall to 5.7 percent on average in 2018. All of the above factors will continue to make an impact in 2018 along with potentially more emphasis on the residential sector with the government making significant finance for development available through Home Building Finance Ireland, as announced this autumn. General Contracting Both medium and large-scale main contractors recruited at a steady rate in 2017, with quantity surveyors, site managers, site engineers and project managers the most common requirements. Salaries in these positions increased, although not at the same rate as in the previous year given the leap forward in activity two years ago. Consulting Engineers There has been a demand for all types of design engineers from consultancies but particularly for structural, civil design and building services design engineers. One noticeable feature for civil engineering has been the preference for experience in drainage and site development infrastructure rather than large roads/bridges projects, which is in line with the type of construction activity on the increase. Building Services The success and importance of building services contracting is clear in that 4 of the top 12 construction companies in turnover terms are building services companies and the sector has been dealing with a busy project workload both in terms of FDI projects such as data centres and pharmaceutical plants and also with the healthcare sector where there are high profile projects to move forward in 2018. Trades and Labour In terms of onsite trades and labour, 2017 was a very busy year for short-term vacancies for labourers, pipelayers, ground workers and various trades such as electricians. Sigmar experienced a 4.5% rise in construction vacancies for these areas. There has been a significant development to increase pay in the sector with the introduction of the Sectoral Employment Order in November, which has in many cases significantly increased rates of pay for on-site personnel. Salaries We track salaries for construction professionals in Dublin and for the regions and there has been a difference in salaries historically due to the differences in demand and cost of living situation. This difference has become more pronounced as although salaries in general for both Dublin and other areas have all increased, Dublin based salaries have increased at a faster rate - for example in general, construction project managers in Dublin with more than 5 year’s project management experience will, in general, be paid approximately 13% higher than the equivalent position working in one of the regional cities. This gap is an issue we will be interested in tracking in 2018 to see if more opportunities become available in the regional centres. Top Tip for 2018 Employers report a continuing trend towards the use of Revit and BIM on various projects and although use is not uniform across the construction sector, further take-up is likely. Therefore familiarisation with Revit will help engineers and CAD designers across various disciplines. Looking for a construction job? Check out our latest jobs here
There has been a significant recovery in the construction sector since 2012. According to the Irish Construction Industry “the building and construction industry increased its volume of output by 4.1% in the second quarter of 2014 when compared to the previous year”. In residential construction the ESRI predict that between 10,000 and 12,000 new houses will be needed between now and 2015. Further predictions project that this requirement will double to between 20,000 and 25,000 homes to accommodate ongoing demographic change. A further report carried out by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland entitled the “Construction Sector Outlook 2014” has forecasted the creation of about 30,000 new jobs over the next few years. Workers Abroad Many of our skilled construction workers have left Ireland to seek opportunities abroad. A construction boom and tax free salaries have attracted many Irish construction workers to the Middle East. According to the Irish Times in the United Arab Emirates the Irish population has increased by about 30 per cent to an estimated 6,000 people. In Riyadh the Irish Embassy has reported an increase in the number of families now living in Saudi Arabia to an estimated 3,000 people and a further 1,000 Irish people residing in Qatar. Canada has also been an attractive destination for many of our engineering specialists due to its current scarcity of workers. It is estimated that 3,000 skilled Irish construction workers will be working in Canada as engineering specialists by the end of 2014. In addition to skilled construction workers leaving our shores many Irish construction companies have also set up new ventures overseas. Some of these companies’ strengths include English as the established business language and high innovation and design standards. In 2010 Irish construction firms P Elliot & Company Limited and Wills Bros Ltd set up a new joint venture in Saudi Arabia. In 2011 Sligo based company Jennings O’ Donovan & Partner followed suit and announced that it had secured a contract of 2.8m as the Primary Infrastructure Development for a large development in Bahrain. Irish construction companies such as Kentz, Laing O’Rourke and Kentech have also won significant projects with some offering attractive overseas packages for the construction professionals and their families. Talent Shortages in the Irish Market As the Irish construction housing market has seen a bounce-back in job opportunities, there are now not enough suitably qualified graduates to fill them. The downturn in the building sector five years ago triggered a dramatic fall in secondary school leavers interest in third level study in courses linked to this area. According to Career and Education News between 2008 and 2013, CAO first preferences for construction related courses plunged from 552 to 195. Engineers Ireland also recently highlighted that there will be a shortage of engineering graduates in the years ahead and that during the 2013/2014 academic year only 62 construction engineers graduated. An additional problem of having a percentage of our skilled construction workers overseas on high tax free salaries poses further problems for engineering companies in relation to the recruitment of staff. Future Outlook The ongoing recovery of the construction industry along with the issue of many of our skilled engineering professionals overseas poses questions for companies, educators and the government in how we ensure we have sufficient talent available for the opportunities which will emerge. The government recently announced a stimulus package for the construction industry titled “Construction 2020”. One of the points outlined within this package was a tax incentive scheme to increase supply for residential housing developments and to increase job numbers within the construction sector. While it is unwise to look for a situation where any sector is too popular a choice (demand for architecture and civil engineering during the boom was out of sync with future opportunities), there is certainly a case that more interest can be promoted in relevant construction courses. Many of our mechanical and electrical construction companies have reported difficulty in finding strong candidates for junior and intermediate roles – while there has simultaneously not been a large demand from school-leavers for building services courses. Along with this, experienced managers in the construction sector have commented that educators need to provide more “real world” exposure to future engineers towards the end of their third level education – eg. better Excel and planning software skills (MS Project, Primavera etc.) as these will enable them to bring greater value and “hit the ground running” with companies in the marketplace. It looks likely that Irish companies will try hard to attract many of our overseas engineers back home in the near future – they will also be interested to see if an increased number of skilled graduates can emerge through the education system. The answer to tackling the current deficit of qualified construction professionals should come from multiple sources including government incentives, upskilling current workers and promoting careers in construction to those entering third level education. As the Irish construction sector continues to show strong improvement we look forward to continuous growth in the year ahead.
Working as a Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Recruitment Consultant I’m very interested in educating people on a career in the building services industry. I’ve been recruiting in the industry for nearly three years and have noticed a significant drop in the amount of Building Services graduates entering into the workforce. M&E Engineering firms are constantly calling looking for assistance in filling positions they can’t seem to fill themselves. A career in Building Services can be very challenging and rewarding with several different types of positions available in the industry. It combines a flair for design and problem solving along with dynamic working environments in Ireland and abroad. According to the CAO, points for a place in Building Services have been relatively low over the last few years which is surprising given the job opportunities. What is Building Services? Building Services Engineers are responsible for designing and installing energy systems in buildings. These systems include heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), refrigeration, water supply, fire protection, power, lighting and data communication systems. They work alongside architects and other engineering disciplines to design, develop and manage new technologies that impact the economy, utility, durability, and comfort of buildings. Working in Building Services Building Services Engineers can either work on the consultancy (design) side or the contractor (installation / commissioning) side of the industry. Both require knowledge of Building Services but are different in terms of day-to-day activities. Working for the Consultant – Design, Flair & Problem solving. Meeting with Clients. Tender / Concept design. Research new designs, technologies, and construction methods. Design calculations. Layout designs / drawings. Simulations. Working for the Contractor – Dynamic, Hands on, Commercial. Installation of M&E services. Commissioning of M&E services Interpret technical drawings and schematics. Environmental, Health and Safety on site. Provide feedback to design engineers on Client problems. Quality assurance. Careers & Opportunities Working as a Building Services Engineer there are several areas one can specialise in ranging from Residential / Commercial projects such as apartment complexes, offices and retail units to large Industrial / Pharmaceutical projects such as food processing plants, power stations and manufacturing facilities. As well as these projects happening in Ireland, there are plenty of opportunities in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and also Africa. Projects in the Commercial sector use conventional HVAC systems however above is a photo of the mechanical services in a Pharmaceutical plant. Plants like this have a higher demand for air, water, steam and other hazardous materials hence the larger and more specialised equipment. Salary Information Position Salary (1 – 2 years) € Salary (2 – 5 years) € Salary (5 years plus) € CAD Technician 25 – 27 27 – 30 30+ BIM Modeller 25 – 27 30 – 35 35+ Revit MEP Modeller 27 – 30 30 – 40 40+ Mechanical Design Engineer 25 – 28 35 – 45 50+ Electrical Design Engineer 25 – 28 35 – 45 50+ Mechanical Project Engineer 25 – 28 35 – 45 60+ Electrical Project Engineer 25 – 28 35 – 45 60+ Mechanical Project Manager N/A 40 – 60 70+ Electrical Project Manager N/A 40 – 60 70+ Software Building Services has come along way over the years in terms of the software used by engineers. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the most talked about / required package in the industry with it being used by both consultancies and contractors. It describes the process of designing a building collaboratively using a system of computer models rather than separate sets of drawings, this helps reduce the risk of errors through integrated design, engineering and fabrication workflows. Below is an image of how a coordination issue between the structural engineers and HVAC engineers was resolved long before the construction phase began, saving precious time, manpower and money. Before BIM, this issue may only have been spotted when the mechanical services were being installed and this issue would have been sent back to the consultants to reroute the services. Most companies nowadays will have BIM as a requirement on their job specifications however, if you have never used it before there are several types of courses available to do. Other software used in Building Services includes: Revit MEP IES Navisworks AutoCAD Dialux Hevacomp Having worked on very exciting roles with extremely innovative and dynamic companies, I find it hard to believe that there is not more of an interest in Building Services as a career. If you see yourself as someone with a flair for design, an interest in energy systems and good at problem solving then why not give me a call to discuss the first / next step in your career.
The construction team has over 35 years’ combined recruitment experience placing high calibre candidates across general construction, M&E, civil/structural engineering and trades.
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