Challenges put aside during the pandemic are now returning – CIF Director General Tom Parlon

by | Jun 15, 2021

Thankfully, all construction sites are now fully open again. For the past 18 months, the focus had been on Covid-related issues and are likely to remain with us for the coming year.

But new challenges are emerging and old challenges, put aside during the pandemic, are returning to the fore. The industry now faces a perfect storm in terms of materials and input costs in the immediate term.

In the medium term, the availability of skilled labour, female participation in the industry, the sustainability agenda and the digitalisation of the industry are back at the top of the agenda.

The acute increase in input and material costs is being felt around Ireland’s 1,500 major construction sites this month. The global has become local with many materials such as steel and timber seeing large double-digit growth over the past month.

These increased costs will, of course, have an impact on both the cost and timing of delivery. The CIF conducted a survey in early Q1 of this year which found that over 80 per cent of members surveyed are experiencing price increases associated with steel, 66 per cent with timber and almost 50 per cent with cladding.

As the pandemic continues to abate, as vaccination rolls out, Covid measures will hopefully be relaxed. Our safety committee will continue to update the CIF’s Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedure.

With the HSE confirming the delivery of a first dose to 50 per cent of the adult population, I would encourage all of our members to avail of the vaccine as soon as possible and to promote vaccination in their business and amongst their staff.

The industry now needs to redouble its efforts to maintain ‘traditional’ site safety to reduce accidents and fatalities towards zero. This year, the CIF has a calendar of safety events with each month designated to some aspect of safety culture. Check it out and get involved.

Our inaugural CIF A Home For Everyone competition – developed by Class Of Your Own and led by CEO Alison Watson MBE in collaboration with TUI, the Techno Teachers Association Ireland, the Engineering Technology Teachers Association and the Institute of Guidance Counsellors – was a resounding success, with 55 second level schools taking part nationwide.

Companies from all associations in the CIF participated in this construction-focused competition.

On behalf of all at the CIF, I wish to congratulate our winners, Castleisland Community College, and our runners-up Coláiste Iognáid SJ and St. Joseph’s College, all of whom submitted inspirational designs.

Now the industry is reopened fully, it’s a sign of the times that we are only getting to look forward to 2021 half way through the year. We have lost six months pursuing strategies that span the coming decades and are critical to Ireland’s future.

Project Ireland 2040, the NDP and Ireland’s climate change strategy are all entirely dependent on our industry’s capacity, competence and capabilities and collaboration with our partners in the political and societal spheres.

For our part, we are already invested heavily in making two complimentary transitions – digitalisation and sustainability. The future of our industry has to be smart and sustainable – in other words digitalisation will allow us to build sustainable buildings sustainably.

We look forward to working with you, our members, on this journey.

Please get involved in the many initiatives that the CIF have put in place to make this transition – at the end is a modern, profitable and sustainable industry for us all.

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