Where Has All the Skilled Labour Gone?


If your business operates within the construction industry, it is quite likely finding good people to hire is one of your biggest challenges. The construction industry is suffering from a major shortage in skilled labour right now and here’s why.

While we have moved on from (and are still trying to forget) the demise of the Celtic Tiger, the truth is we are still feeling it’s effects. On average, one in every two workers who lost their jobs in Ireland in the five years from 2007 to 2012 had previously been employed in construction. Many construction workers either emigrated or went into a different line of work. Simultaneously impacted where the numbers of students enrolling in construction-related courses.

In 2007, 10.8% of the total workforce in Ireland worked in the construction industry. In 2022, this figure is just 6.3%, despite a significant growth of 52.8% in the industry in the decade following the recession. We simply have not replaced the skilled labour we lost.

According to recent comments from Minister Simon Harris, Ireland is going to need an extra 34,000 skilled trade workers just to build the number of houses promised in the Government’s 2030 housing plans, and that’s not even considering the growing demand for non-residential construction. According to a recent study by Manpower Group, skilled tradespeople such as electricians, as well as engineering professionals, are in particularly short supply.

This shortage of skilled labour has forced the industry to look at new ways of working and led to the rise of innovative, modern methods of construction (MMC). Offsite manufacturing (OSM) has given the construction industry the opportunity to increase output, even with fewer skilled people. And this trend is set to grow in the years ahead.

When it comes to the electrical fit-out, modular wiring is the perfect example of off-site manufacturing. While the project is being constructed onsite, the electrical infrastructure for the building is being assembled offsite. Through this parallel processing approach, project programmes are shortened, and onsite labour requirements can be reduced by up to 75%.

7 benefits of OSM and modular wiring include:

  1. Rapid project delivery- Through a parallel processing approach, 70-80% of the electrical installation is completed at the factory, during the construction stages. This facilitates a rapid project delivery, much faster than traditional methods.
  2. Cost benefit- Up to 75% savings can be made to labour costs (depending on the project).
  3. Future flexibility- Modular systems allow for greater project flexibility. In most cases, the client has the option to change locations or add power devices and luminaires in the future without the need to rewire.
  4. Skilled labour shortage- As modular wiring systems are ‘plug -and play’, less people are needed on site, addressing the skilled labour shortage.
  5. Health & safety- With smaller teams and less time being spent working at heights, improvements are gained in terms of health and safety.
  6. Quality installation- The electrical system is produced in a controlled and quality-assured factory environment, it is also fully tested before arriving onsite. Therefore, a high-quality installation is guaranteed.
  7. Sustainability- OSM allows for a more sustainable approach to construction as it involves fewer people and fewer deliveries travelling to and from sites, therefore reducing carbon emissions, when compared to a traditional approach.

If you would like to talk to us about how OSM could deliver benefits to your next project, please get in touch by email info@modula.ie or phone +353 (0)1 455 9472.


Browne, D. and Kennedy, J., 2022. Ireland- Offsite manufacturing. [online] Cita.ie. Available at: <https://www.cita.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Off-Site-Manufacturing-DB-and-JK-1.pdf> [Accessed 9 September 2022].

Taylor, C., 2022. Ireland facing its worst talent shortage in decade, study finds. [online] The Irish Times. Available at: <https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/ireland-facing-its-worst-talent-shortage-in-decade-study-finds-1.4160645> [Accessed 9 September 2022].

Conefrey, T. and McIndoe-Calder, T., 2022. Where are Irelands construction workers?. [online] Centralbank.ie. Available at: <https://www.centralbank.ie/docs/default-source/publications/quarterly-bulletins/quarterly-bulletin-signed-articles/where-are-ireland-s-construction-workers-(conefrey-and-mcindoe-calder).pdf> [Accessed 16 September 2022].

Other Posts