IntroOpening remarksI have worked in the construction industry, as a professional or as an academic, for about thirty years and this is my third recession. This experience has brought with it a sense/intuition of signs that either things are about to get worse, or at some point in time, are going to improve.
The proverb/phrase “this too shall pass” comes to mind, it conveys so much, it’s chastening in good times and should be consoling in difficult times. So in the good times, when we had large numbers of students attending our courses and graduates could get very well paid jobs wherever they wanted in Ireland, I was wary that it couldn’t last. (the fable of a powerful king, thought to be King Solomon, who asks assembled wise men to create a ring that will make him happy when he is sad, and vice versa. After deliberation the sages hand him a simple ring with the words "This too will pass" etched on it, which has the desired effect.Abraham Lincoln (1859) “It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”)
The signs were there, I was asked to comment on why colleges couldn’t produce more graduates to address the skills shortages of the industry, I had a sense of unease; my response was that we were educating construction professionals for a long career, not to meet any immediate demand.
When politicians were confidently predicting that these good times would go on forever, I started to get worried.
When they insisted that we wouldn’t need a bailout, I had a sense that we were in deep trouble.
Sadly, this was devastating for our graduates; they had started on our courses during good times, confident of getting very well paid careers in the Irish construction industry on graduating, only to find that these had all disappeared, as if into thin air! A clear case of one of the laws of economics, “today’s shortage is tomorrow’s glut, or vice versa”.
Thankfully, our degrees equip graduates with many sought after skills, specifically in the areas of financial and project management, and because they are accredited by two internationally recognised professional organisations, namely the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland/Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institute of Building, enabled them to easily move to places where there is work, where they are gaining many and varied experiences, both work and personal, which will benefit them and the Irish construction industry when they return. I’m being positive here because I believe that many will return. Remember, “this too shall pass”!
So now we’re in the depths of a major recession, a global financial crisis, with prophets of doom forecasting ever more dire consequences of the Eurozone crisis, the austerity packages, the bailouts, and so on. I find myself starting to look for the signs.
These intuitions can be very useful, I knew last winter wouldn’t be as cold as the previous because all the garages were advertising snow tyres and wheel chains, and many shops had large stocks of those spiky things for your shoes to allow you to walk on ice!
Well, we’re not out of the woods yet, but I believe that things are going to improve in the construction industry. The signs are there if you know what you’re looking for, in my case, a school pupil came up to me at the careers fair at Rochestown Park hotel and told me that construction was “not good”, now I’m being diplomatic here, his wording was much more emphatic that that;
another was that at our open day last month, another leaving cert student told me that he that he wanted to do one of our degrees so that he could go to Australia, I hadn’t the heart to tell him that the boom there will probably have come to an end by the time he graduates;
and when politicians are continuously telling us that we’re in such a dire predicament, it makes me wonder if this could be a sign!
There are, actually, some tangible signs that things are going to improve in the Irish construction industry, we have the announcement of a €2.25Bn stimulus package of building and infrastructure works. A clear example of the use of the industry as a “pump primer” to get the economy going again.
We also have the Society of Chartered Surveyors report noting an imminent shortage of graduates due to the sharp decline in students taking construction courses since 2007.
This is a better graph from the report which indicates a rise, albeit small but discernible, in employment.
We have the results of a survey of our own Quantity Surveying graduates, this graph illustrates the broad range of options that our graduates take. One trend that’s worth noting is that of “other employment”, this confirms something I was suggesting earlier, that our degrees equip graduates with many sought after skills and these can be applied in other industries.
This chart of just the graduates that take QS employment is a bit clearer and the trend line of interest is QS employment in Ireland, this shows a distinctive upward trend and the hope must be that, given the positive signs mentioned earlier, this will continue.
So, there appears to be work to be done, the stimulus package, the inward investment, all will create work for an industry that has been reduced to a fraction of it’s previous capability. This begs the question, who’s left to do the additional work? It suggests that there will soon be many employment opportunities in the Irish construction industry, and the industry is already employing a significant number of our graduates, and remember the number of graduates is falling dramatically.
We may get back to the same question that was asked of us before, “why can’t higher education produce enough graduates?”
A career in engineering, architecture and construction requires a mind that is creative and inquisitive, yet organized and analytical. Individuals in this field should enjoy solving complex technical problems. They must be able to work alone or as part of a team and have an ability to concentrate on detailed work for long periods of time. They should be able to cope with a diverse work load and locations. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are also needed to work effectively with others.
Professional and managerial careers in construction are varied, making full use of people's creative, technical and business skills. A strong sense of achievement can come from contributing to our society and economy by turning dreams of housing, hospitals, schools, shops, factories, and so on…. into a physicalreality. Some who enter this area of the industry will become specialised in their chosen field.
I came across this quote from an article about an art exhibition, I once showed this to a group of students when I worked in a university in Scotland, an immediate response from one of them was “that’s the Scottish parliament building”. It’s worth noting that “ghost estates” and “priory hall” have become symbolic emblems of the demise of the celtic tiger reflecting the tragic side of the financial crisis. On the other hand, great buildings that have been constructed reflect people’s dreams and aspirations, either collectively in the shape of churches, cathedrals, colleges (the RTC’s in the 70s), even sports stadia, (Croke park, the Aviva or Thomand park) or individually in terms of shops, offices and even our houses. The importance of the construction industry, to society should not be underestimated, even in these bleak times.
We have many construction related degree course here at CIT, and the potential need for graduates as suggested earlier probably applies equally to them as well. We have level seven and level eight degree courses in Quantity Surveying, Construction Management, Architecture, Architectural Technology, Interior Architecture, Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering and Building Services Engineering. It’s also worth noting, although I haven’t listed them here, that we now offer MSc degrees in Construction Project Management and MEng degrees Environmental and Structural Engineering, with other postgraduate options being developed all the time.
Speaker 4 daniel cahill
Shortage of Graduates in Construction IndustryDaniel CahillHead of Department
TYPICAL CONSTRUCTION STUDENT Creative and inquisitive Organized and analytical Problem solving Able to work alone or as part of a team Ability to concentrate on detailed work for long periods of time. Cope with diverse work load and locations Strong communication and interpersonal skills
What construction degrees offer Provides a basis for a very rewarding professional and managerial careers in a vibrant and dynamic industry Makes full use of peoples creative, technical and business skills Provides a strong sense of achievement that comes from turning dreams of housing, hospitals, schools, shops, factories, ………. into a physical reality
THE MEANING OF BUILDINGS“A building, any building, is something morethan four walls and a roof. It necessarilycarries within itself an unsuspected, secrethistory of dreams, aspirations and tragedies.Variously symbolic, manipulated andmanipulative, a building’s relationship withmankind is as ambiguous, duplicitous andchangeable as any human drama.” Gale, I (27th March, 2005) Behind Closed Doors, Scotland on Sunday
CONSTRUCTION COURSES at CIT Department of Construction B Sc/B Sc (Hons) Quantity Surveying B Sc/B Sc (Hons) Construction Management Department of Architecture B Sc (Hons) Architecture B Sc/B Sc (Hons) Architectural Technology B Sc Interior Architecture Department of Civil & Structural Engineering B Eng Civil Engineering B Eng (Hons) Structural Engineering Department of Manufacturing Engineering B Eng Building Services Engineering
ENTRY REQUIREMENTSLadder progression Ab-inito routeLevel 7 CR052 – 200 points Level 8 CR570 – 290 points CR572 – 240 pointsOrdinary Degree Honours DegreeLeaving Certificate:- Leaving Certificate:-minimum Grade D3 at minimum Grade D3 atOrdinary/ Higher Level in 5 Ordinary/ Higher Level in 6subjects, including Maths subjects including at leastand either English or Irish two C3’s at Higher level, including Maths and either English or IrishIntake 80 students in total between CR052, CR570Quantity Surveying and CR572 Construction Management
PROGRESSION WITHIN COURSESLadder progression Ab-inito routeCR052 (Level 7) CR570 & 572 (Level 8) Performance Performance for for progression progressionYear 1 40% Year 1 Two semesters, 40% ↓ ↓ Six modulesYear 2 National 40% Year 2 Two semesters, 40% Certificate in Six modules ↓→ ↓ ConstructionYear 3 B Sc in CM 50% Year 3 Two semesters, 40% ↓→ B Sc in QS (SCS) 60% ↓ Six modulesYear 4 B Sc (Honours) in Construction Management or Quantity Surveying (Pass, Lower Second, Upper Second, First Class)
EMPLOYMENT DESTINATIONS FOR GRADUATES OF CONSTRUCTION DEGREE COURSES Employee Consultant Quantity Director/Partner Surveying Practices Self employed Building Contractors Sub-contractors Office based Property Developers Site based Banks, Insurance Companies, Loss Adjusters Locally Public bodies, Local Regionally Authorities Nationally Educational Internationally establishments
ACHIEVING CHARTERED STATUS ANDMAINTAINING PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE The courses are fully accredited by the relevant professional organisations Graduates, upon gaining employment, may commence their structured training leading to Chartered status Graduates may also undertake study at MSc and/or PhD level
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