Donegal construction expert highlights shortage of skilled tradespeople

Lack of well-trained and experienced talent in the industry is a concern

Staff Reporter


Staff Reporter

Housing construction

The construction industry in Ireland needs more skilled tradespeople, a Donegal trainer of construction workers has said.
Darren Donagh, a Newtowncunningham-based health and safety expert who specialises in training for construction workers, says a lack of well-trained, fresh talent in the industry is affecting the progress of projects in the revived building sector.
He says fewer young people are now considering ‘the trades’ as a career choice, following the collapse of the industry almost a decade ago.
“In the wake of the construction crash, there was little or no interest in training for the construction sector for obvious reasons. The result is that now there is a lack of well-trained, competent and experienced talent in the industry, and that is taking its toll on projects.
“Ten years ago, there were plenty of experienced young build teams in Donegal but now many of those workers have either emigrated or found careers in other sectors. Personally, from a training point of view nationally, what we are seeing at Donaghy Safety Training is that labour is very much at a premium.”
Mr Donaghy, an organiser of Build18 - the expert advice expo sponsored by AIB for anyone building, renovating, extending, buying or selling property in Donegal - says there are a number of key reasons for the current dearth of talent.
“One factor is that young people in Donegal can’t enjoy the quality of life experienced by construction workers overseas. At home they have problems such as geographic location and the commute to bigger urban centres like Dublin to contend with.
“Another reason is the attraction to better rates of pay elsewhere. In England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere the remuneration is much more attractive and many of our skilled workers have settled in those places.
“Many remain wary of returning home in fear of a repeat of what happened to the industry here post-2008.”
However, work for skilled tradespeople is available at home, he says.
“There are opportunities in the industry at home, both locally in Donegal and particularly in Dublin. It’s now time for young people to consider ‘the trades’ as career options once again. It’s time for our young people to realise that it is perfectly acceptable to be a plasterer, an electrician or a labourer . The construction sector will be all the healthier for it.”