The construction industry is once again on the rise, and is facing into an era of both opportunities and challenges. At the centre of each of the country’s construction projects will be project management, controlling time, cost and quality.

Gareth McElhinney, Technical Director at RPS Group and member of the Ireland Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI), writing exclusively for Irish Construction Industry Magazine explores the main challenges and opportunities now facing project managers within the industry across the country.

Challenges: 1 Capital Investment
After a decade of significantly reduced investment in infrastructure, the amount we spend needs to increase dramatically to repair, renew and expand transport including road, rail, air and ports; along with water, electricity, waste, and communications networks. More people are now working in Dublin, putting a huge strain on existing transport, housing, energy, water and wastewater systems. A strategic plan is needed to incentivise regional development, attract and retain graduates and skilled labour to our other regional cities, along with adequate investment to provide basic services and attract investment.

2 Energy
Meeting climate change targets will predominantly be achieved by reducing transport related emissions. The National Mitigation Plan from July this year outlined: ‘All new cars sold in Ireland will be zero carbon emission or zero emission-capable by 2030 as well as many of our public transport buses and rail lines. The ultimate aim is to decarbonise the national passenger car feet by 2050 and increase the use of alternative fuels in the freight sector’.

This has huge infrastructural, logistical and construction plant implications. Putting in place the necessary electricity systems – from generation, through transmission, to distribution systems – to support this monumental shift in transportation will require huge investment and a re-think in how we do things. This links to our overreliance on imported fossil fuels and how renewables need to be factored in. Greater grid interconnection to UK, France and Europe will be required to meet our electricity demands or open-up export opportunities for our renewables such as wind and wave.

3 Employees
Based on current estimates, we are heading for full-employment by the end of 2018. Therefore, growth in the construction sector will struggle as finding qualified workers becomes harder. We need to either attract back workers who have emigrated or attract migrant workers. This goes hand-in-hand with being able to provide housing stock as our net inward migration increases.

For a more extensive article see our September/October 2017 Issue of Irish Construction Industry Magazine available on subscription, email catherine@mcdmedia.ie