€26 billion invested in construction industry last year
A new report from the Construction Industry Federation shows that over 10,000 extra workers joined the construction workforce last year, an increase of 8% on 2017.
The numbers employed in the construction industry now stand at over 145,000.
The report also shows that €26 billion was invested in building and construction during 2018, up 20% on the previous year.
Housing investment increased by 24% last year, with 18,072 new housing units completed, an increase of 25% on 2017.
22,467 new housing units also started construction in 2018, up 28% on 2017, the CIF added.
The Construction Industry Federation predicted that completions of new homes will increase to 23,000 in 2019 and 28,500 in 2020.
This will mark an increase in housing investment in 2019 of 20% and a further increase of 12% in 2020.
Meanwhile, non-residential construction increased by 12% last year on the back of growth in the commercial and foreign direct investment sectors.
But the CIF said that due to the sheer volume of commercial building from 2015-2017, it is expected this growth will slow in 2019 and 2020 to 7% and 6% respectively.
Today's report also reveals that the cost of construction rose by 7.7% in 2018 and is forecast to rise by another 6.5% 2019.
The increases are being caused by the high demand for construction services, skill shortages in the sector and wage increases, the CIF said.
"With investment in the industry expected to reach €41 billion in 2023 and construction costs continuing to increase, we need to encourage more people to enter the construction industry, so skill shortages are not holding back growth, both of the industry and the economy as a whole," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"We're confident that the employment permit changes will help to address this issue and that Ireland will start to see more skilled workers enter the construction industry," he added.