Image: Kevin James, president of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, says more qualified graduates need to enter the surveying profession to help solve Ireland’s housing supply crisis.

A shortage of qualified surveyors is adding to the challenges faced by Ireland’s busy and in-demand construction industry.

A survey by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) has found that up to 3,000 surveying positions will be created by 2026 in the buoyant sector. However, the country is still facing a 59% shortfall.

The SCSI’s Employment, Remuneration and Workplace Report 2023 warns that the country will face a major shortage of qualified surveyors if the economy enjoys growth of 4% per annum over the next four years.

Kevin James, President of the SCSI, said: “The construction sector needs to prioritise digital adoption to keep pace with client demands and I believe this is just one area where people previously employed in the tech sector have a great deal to offer.

“For its part, as this survey shows, a career in surveying is hugely rewarding, not only for its financial rewards but also in terms of the diverse nature of the work and the variety of opportunities available. That’s an important message which we need to reinforce to our young people – and their parents!”

 The SCSI survey found that the median salary of a surveyor is €77,000, up 10% on the last survey which was carried out in 2019.

The report examined salary levels across the three main areas surveyors work in and found the highest median salary was in construction at €85,000, followed by property on €70,000 and land on €64,000.

It also found a considerable difference existed between salary levels in Dublin and the rest of the country. The median salary in Dublin is €80,000, 15% more than the median for the rest of the country, which is €68,925.

Females make up 25% of the SCSI’s 6,000 overall membership but have a higher representation in property 34% as opposed to 16% in land and 10% in construction.

While the median salary for female is €70,000, 14% less than the median male salary of €80,000, the report’s author Dr Roisin Murphy, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at TU Dublin, says it should not be construed that female respondents generally earn less than males.

Dr Murphy said: “It’s important to remember that the lower number of female SCSI members compared to males, will have a distortive effect on the sample size. In addition, there are proportionately more female members within the property designation, which has a lower median salary overall.

“While considerable progress has been made in addressing gender imbalance across the built environment sector nationally, there remains work to be done to address the ongoing lack of diversity. Trends in relation to salary provision across gender should be monitored on an ongoing basis,” she said.

The SCSI says the shortfall of surveys will add to the country’s difficulties in addressing the housing crisis as well as key infrastructural and commercial developments.

A recent report by construction finance company Initiative Ireland projected that 40,000 new homes annually will be needed for Ireland to control the growing shortfall in housing. With around 28,000 new homes delivered in 2022, the shortfall in housing now stands at around 116,000, or four years of housing supply.

Another survey, hosted by Autodesk Construction Cloud, found that 63% of Irish construction companies are struggling in their attempts to recruit across a range of skills. The report cited a range of solutions, including a greater emphasis on apprenticeships.

The SCSI report also examined the supply of and demand for Irish graduates across the built environment life cycle, in a 4% per annum growth scenario 2,910 new surveyor positions will be created across the profession between 2023 and 2026.

However, based on current levels the number of Irish graduates entering the workforce during that four-year period will be just 1,829, a shortfall of 1,081 or 59%. If the economy grows by 3%, the shortfall of surveyors will be 18%.

In the more optimistic 4% growth scenario, almost 500 estate agents and property managers will be required. In this situation, the country will also need to treble the number of building surveyor graduates from 77 to over 200 and double the number of land surveyors from 99 to 221.

Kevin James added: “Solving our housing supply crisis and achieving our targets with regard to the Climate Action Plan and the National Development Plan will require sufficient numbers of qualified graduates coming into the surveying profession.

“Eight out of ten respondents to this survey confirmed inflation is a barrier to employment growth and that is very concerning. We know the construction sector is facing shortages of skilled workers, but this survey puts numbers on the scale of those shortages from a surveying perspective.”