THE head of one of the biggest recruitment agencies in Ireland believes that a recent pick up in construction jobs is one of the strongest signs yet that the Irish economy is starting to recover.
The number of construction workers taken on as contractors since early July is three times the number hired in the first three months of this year, according to the latest figures from Hays Ireland.
“Construction firms significantly cut their staff numbers during the recession and teams which were very lean are now relying on contractors to give them the agility to take on new business,” said Richard Eardley, managing director of Hays Ireland.
“We see this as the first indicator of recovery.”
Earlier this week, it emerged that Ireland has pulled out of recession. Ireland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures economic growth, increased by 0.4 per cent between April and June, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). This is the second time in five years that Ireland has crawled out of its economic downturn. The country was pushed back into recession at the start of this year when GDP contracted by 0.6 per cent.
As well as seeing a pick up in contract work for builders, Hays has recorded a 41 per cent increase in the number of permanent jobs being offered to construction workers. “This means projects are securing funding and companies are more confident about the work continuing to come in,” said Eardley. “Temporary workers in construction are up 40 per cent compared to this time last year – the biggest growth rate of any sector in which we recruit. This only happens at the start of an upturn. There is a spring in the step of the partners of those surviving firms of architects and engineers in Dublin. They have work on the drawing board.”
The construction sector is just one area where Hays Ireland has seen a jump in recruitment. The number of jobs in office support has doubled over the last year, while recruitment in IT and financial services has increased by about a third.
“Office support is another area that experiences a massive drop in a recession and is the first place where companies start to hire when they are confident of growth again,” said Eardley. “Overall, the numbers of temporary workers across all sectors are almost back to pre-recession levels.”
In 2007 – the year before Ireland fell into its worst recession ever, Hays travelled across the world to find architects and engineers from the Far East and Africa to take up jobs in Ireland.
Today, the agency is trying to entice back Irish emigrants who left the country during the downturn to find work.
“We’re now working across the globe to see who’s ready and willing to come back to work in design, engineering and surveying,” said Eardley.