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The Return of The Crane – Jobs for the Boys!

Link Blog | April 13, 2016

In 2008, one of the clear signals of a change in economic circumstances was the fall in the number of cranes at work around the country. Previously, the skies of Irish cities had been dotted with these symbols of a booming construction industry and economy, but when circumstances changed, each crane decommissioned signalled the loss of many multiples of jobs in a sector that all but ground to a halt.

Globally, the construction workforce is dominated by men. Ireland was and is no different with men accounting for 9 in 10 workers in the sector. No surprise then that the decreased activity in the building trade coincided with a sharp increase in the numbers of unemployed men. Other traditionally male dominated industries like manufacturing and engineering also suffered significant job losses, as spending continued to contract.

Job losses, and more importantly the lack of opportunities to take up new posts are bad for the economy but also for society. Long-term unemployment is particularly obnoxious. People out of work for long periods can lose skills and confidence, finding it harder to get back to work the longer they are out of it. Men, who historically are more likely to tie self-esteem and self-confidence to having a job and earning money (which isn’t necessarily the right way to think), can become frustrated.

The good news is that over the last 2-3 years, jobs for the boys have come back! In line with a general rise in job opportunities, male dominated industries are hiring and the notion that this is no country for young men has been disproved. Recruitment in construction has now grown every month since as far back as mid-2013. We are at the point where companies are appealing to the Diaspora to come home, and talk abounds of a “skills gap” due to a lack of trained workers. New capital projects like the Luas link and proposal for College Green, as well as a necessary increase in home building and refurbishment mean there is no reason why opportunities in this industry won’t continue to grow. Bruce Shaw expect growth in the sector to be in the region of 21% for 2016.

Everything is not rosy. Long term and youth unemployment are still too high and to combat that, people should be incentivised to take up education and re-training to ensure they have the best chances of employment. Those who took the opportunity to do so are now reaping the rewards in terms of attractive jobs and higher wages. Indeed, the lesson of the last recession is that unskilled or less educated people are more prone to losing their job so it stands to reason that people should be encouraged to stay in education longer. There are also problems specifically in construction which need to be resolved, however, the employment picture is doubtless a positive one in that sector and across the board in male dominated industries. By the beginning of this year, overall male unemployment had dropped to 10.2% from 18% in 2012 while numbers in long term unemployment fell too.

There is opportunity everywhere for men (and women alike!) in all of those industries so badly affected in the recent past. While we have to be vigilant so as to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of our recent past, it seems cranes coming back are indicative of solid foundations for an economic recovery.

I am looking for candidates in the Construction and Medical Device Industry.

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