Addressing the Shortage of Construction Workers in Ireland

As one of the leading construction recruitment companies in Ireland, Ward Personnel is at the coalface of the current challenges around the labour shortages impacting the construction sector.

David Ward, MD of Ward Personnel, has been in the indu- stry for over 25 years and has never experienced the level of labour supply shortages that currently exist right across the industry.

“With Covid now hopefully behind us, we are seeing an increase in demand both in the Labour and Trades Divi- sion of our business and also on the professional roles side. We expect this demand to ramp up heavily for the remaining quarters of 2022 given the huge number of bu- ilding projects currently happening across the civil, com- mercial, data center and residential landscapes. It’s great to see the number of live projects but there is no doubt that sourcing the workers with the right skills to support these projects is a major challenge for the Industry”. Speaking recently with Greg Canty of Fuzion Marketing on his Win Happy podcast series, David outlined some of the factors impacting the shortage and how Ward Person- nel plan to address them:
• Large numbers of construction workers on the ground
and construction professionals lost to the industry in the 2009/10 crash who have never returned to the In- dustry. This includes both Irish and International wor- kers who either left to other sectors of the economy or left Ireland to work abroad and many have not re- turned.
• Not enough new workers coming through the appren- tice system over the last 10 years – so we are in ca- tch-up mode.
• Construction work and roles not seen as being popu- lar or attractive enough to younger workers (and in- deed their parents) when compared to other sectors/ careers.

There is tremendous work being done at Government and at Industry level by the CIF to tackle some of the under- lying factors above. For example, the recently announced Government increased funding for apprenticeships will

be a great help in the future. However, some of these initiatives will take time to really have an impact on the ground and in order to support our customers with their current needs, Ward Personnel has undertaken a number of initiatives to try to address the shortages, including the following:
• More focused engagement with the potential con- struction labour pool in Ireland in terms of social me- dia advertising, issuing candidate newsletters, and introducing rewards and recognitions programs such as Worker of the Month awards, Referral schemes etc. – all designed to attract new potential workers to the industry and then to try to retain them by en- gaging more actively and positively with the workfor- ce on a regular basis.
• More focus on upskilling and supporting training and development for existing workers. We have recently partnered with a number of our clients to support workers’ upskilling efforts and in particular helping them to obtain new tickets and certifications, whi- ch in turn can help the supply in more skilled areas where there are particularly acute shortages such as machine drivers, banksmen, scaffolders etc.
• Sourcing and attracting foreign workers into the Irish construction sector. Given the scale of the current shortages, it is clear to us that there is a need to supplement the core Irish workforce with an element of foreign workers in order to meet the current de- mand out there in the marketplace. The positive re- ality is that Ireland is still an attractive location for construction workers to come to live and work. Matt Mis, Divisional Manager in Ward Personnel Overseas Recruitment Division explained:

“The pay rates are competitive in Ireland and the SEO offers great protection to foreign workers coming to Ireland. The workers are well treated and are happy to work hard for decent pay rates and for good site management in the friendly and open society that Ireland offers. Over the last 7 years, we have brought over 500 construction workers to Ireland from Poland and in the main it has worked out quite well for all parties. Of course, accom- modation is the major challenge for these workers and we generally manage this and all of the other logistical challenges in the background such as Safe Pass and manual handling training and the set-up with Revenue, banking and payroll and transport to site – so that the workers arrive to our clients’ sites fully set up and ready to go”.

In order to strengthen service offerings in this area, Ward Personnel has recently set up an office on the ground in Lublin, in Eastern Poland, and already are seeing major interest from Polish workers looking to come to Ireland in the first quarter of 2022 – in particular in the following trades: Mechanical, Electrical, Groundworks, Block laying etc. Ward Personnel also expects more Polish con- struction professionals such as Engineers to consider Ire- land as a location as their experience and skills, including good English language skills, are now more recognized and valued by Irish employers than may have been the case in the past.

In addition, with some of the large Irish Main Contractors and Mechanical and Electrical Contractors now mana- ging major infrastructure and Data Center projects across Europe, Ward Personnel are already seeing an increased demand for Polish and other Eastern European workers who are willing to travel to these locations for specified contracts as the rates and benefits are generally quite competitive when compared to the work available in their own local markets.

Aleksa Bugarski, a Croatian native, now working as an Account Manager in the Ward Personnel Dublin office, explains how Ward Personnel have also recently focused on attracting more workers from the Balkan region to work in construction in Ireland.

“Although Croatian construction workers have in the past mainly travelled to Germany and other surrounding countries for work, Ireland is now more on their radar with improved and cheaper flight connections and the SEO pay rates being attractive, even if the cost of living including accommodation costs is higher than in other European countries. We have ran a number of advertise- ments on local Croatian job boards and there has been very good interest. In the last quarter of 2021, we organi- zed over 25 Croatian workers to come to Ireland and the experience has worked well for the workers and for our clients to date. We are expecting to increase those num- bers incrementally over the coming quarters and hope- fully we can also attract additional construction workers from the Balkan region to work in Construction in Ireland.

There is no doubt that meeting the current labour shortages is a key factor in supporting the continued growth and output of the Irish construction industry. A lot of excellent work is being done at Government and Industry level to address the medium and longer term underlying factors and these will definitely bear fruit in the coming years and will ease the shortages over time. In order to deal with the immediate shortages, Ward Personnel is trying to make the industry more attractive to candidates by engaging more positively with their Irish workers and listening to their concerns, offering them increased support in the areas of upskilling and training, and being more open to sourcing foreign workers as a supplement to the core Irish workforce pool.

Please feel free to contact Ward Personnel if you require any information on the above article or in relation to their service offerings. Contact details for David Ward and Matt Mis are included below and full details of all staff and service offerings can be found on

David Ward
Managing Director
Ward Personnel Limited / 087-9719565

David is the founder and Managing Direc- tor of Ward Personnel which he established in 2010. He has more than 20 years senior management experience across the Recruit- ment Industry, with a particular focus on the Construction and Industrial sectors.

David has led the development of the Ward Personnel team for over 10 years with a re- lentless passion for customer service as the cornerstone and ethos of the business. His fundamental belief is that every client and candidate engagement be given the maxi- mum care and attention by the team at Ward Personnel, to ensure a successful outcome for all parties. This culture drives all of the support functions within the business that aim to enhance the customer experience on a day to day basis and in turn make Ward Personnel the recruiter of choice for our cu- stomers and candidates.

David holds a Degree in Economics & Mathematics, a Master’s Degree in Economics and a Higher Diploma in Education from Univeristy College Galway (now NUI Galway).

Outside of work, David is married with two daughters and has a keen interest in all sport but in particular Hurling, Gaelic Football, Ru- gby, Cycling and Liverpool FC. He is a keen fitness enthusiast who enjoys cycling, swim- ming and walking.

Matt Mis
Divisional Manager
Ward Personnel Limited / 087-7971161

Matt Mis is the manager in our Industrial Di- vision, and he has over 5 years recruitment experience in managing this division which specialises in sourcing foreign candidates for our Irish based clients. Matt believes that hard work, being customer focused, and having great attention to detail are key to success.

With a Master of Law degree, he has strong analytical skills and an excellent work ethic. He has built strong relationships with our clients and has gained their trust and be- lief in our ability to consistently deliver for them.

Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his family and is married with two kids. He is also a huge soccer fan.

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