The challenges facing the industry will no doubt continue to impact on project delivery for the rest of 2022. The war in Ukraine has introduced a great degree of uncertainty for investment markets and that is having a knock-on effect for go, no-go on project decisions.
This presents its own challenge for our members and we are constantly advising contractors to stay ahead in their record keeping and project administration so that in the event of a dispute, slow or late payment becoming more widespread they should be a strong position to recover their entitlements.
There are a number of initiatives underway at high level to address capacity issues in the sector. which will help to address the long-term policy issues highlighted by my colleague Dermot Carey. These are supported by The Department of Education and the Department Of Further and Higher Education, Research and Innovation. The trigger for this action appears to have been the Housing for All agenda but we would hope that there will be a positive impact across the wider sector as demand for secondary school buildings, HSE Estates and other public works projects also increases in line with Project Ireland 2040.
In specialist contracting a significant proportion of our members adopted a market segmentation approach to insulate themselves from future slowdowns in the Irish market. The larger more sophisticated specialist packages are likely to be exporting approximately 65 per cent of their turnover. They are unlikely to turn their focus back to the Irish market anytime soon.
Smaller specialist contractors will be watching the movement in commercial developments and perhaps considering a shift into the housing sector as demand there ramps up and clients gets ready to deliver on the developments granted planning but awaiting infrastructure. The innovation infrastructure that the CIF have been helping to design and specify is incrementally being put in place.
With the commencement of Build Digital and the award of the Construction Technology Centre to a host consortia we are quickly moving into an era where the sector can look forward to a better relationship with the State in the development of a more forward looking, advanced and smart manufacturing industry.
There is no doubt that this innovation centre of excellence, which is designed to support digital transformation, research and innovation as well as the secure deployment of Modern Methods of Construction ,will help to build a more resilient sector that can serve both Ireland’s domestic clients, and through a more sophisticated supply chain encourage the creation of a longer-term export industry.