Research on the Irish labour market in construction conservation

At a seminar in the Construction Industry Federation in Dublin, the Heritage Council launched the research report on the labour market in conservation skills. The report describes the deficits in formal training and accredited skills in the building conservation sector. It presents the results of a survey of the skill-sets that contractors utilise in conservation work. The qualitative research was carried out by a team led by architect Maol Iosa Molloy, assisted by Pat McAfee and Rob Goodbody in the Summer 2014.

The seminar was convened to present the research to building contractors and the 16 Local Education Training Boards interested in making submissions on apprenticeships. The newly-formed Apprenticeship Council is carrying out a consultation process this March seeking ideas from employers for new courses needed by employers. The report provides background information on the changing employment structure of the industry, and the areas where skills are most particularly lacking.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Fidelma Mullane, board member of the Heritage Council described the squeeze on building conservation — “On the one hand, skilled labour has deserted the construction industry since 2008. This has hit the conservation sector particularly hard. On the other hand, public authority grants for building conservation projects have been reduced to almost nothing in the last 5 years. And yet, our historic environment is the backdrop to our daily life, or sense of well-being and our tourism industry”. Ms. Mullane is the chairperson of the Council’s Traditional Building Skills Working Group. Membership of this group is drawn from the sector, and to date, it has identified strategic actions to stimulate skills acquisition for building conservation, and to promote initiatives to meet its needs.

The report identifies the training courses that are needed to fill skills deficits in the sector. Maol Iosa Molloy, author of the report, stated that ‘Building conservation has potential to be a source of growing employment in construction. The potential for skilled and satisfying jobs that add public value and that improve the quality of our built environment is large. We need to provide the training to ensure that our built heritage continues to serve society through its active repair and maintenance.’

The Heritage Council’s architecture officer appealed for support for initiatives in this area from government departments. “The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Education and Skills could work together to achieve these aims.

The report is available to download below in two volumes

Labour market research on the Irish construction conservation market March 2015 Volume 1

Labour market research on the Irish construction conservation market March 2015 Volume 2