CIF Conference 2017 preview – Focus on the Future


As the economy continues to recover, the CIF Conference 2017 will examine how to grow output sustainably across the construction industry.

Despite recovery across most sectors in the Irish economy, output in the construction industry remains below where it should be, according to the Construction Industry Federation. According to industry leaders, the availability of skills and finance has the potential to undermine the industry’s recovery and future growth path. The industry will need to absorb an additional 112,000 workers over the next four years to deliver the Government’s ambition of 35,000 housing units per annum and over €45bn in public capital investment up to 2021.

With this in mind, the CIF Conference 2017 is bringing together key stakeholders from the world of Irish construction to explore the critical issues pertaining to the industry right now. The industry is changing at a rapid pace, and the industry, as a whole needs to identify how to capitalise on these changes. CIF Communications Director, Shane Dempsey says that the construction industry in Ireland sets the tone for future-proofing our economy. “The CIF conference is the premier event in the construction industry,” he states. “The importance of the industry is evident each year. Essentially the Irish economy is dependent on construction to deliver the housing, infrastructure and specialist buildings required for sustainable progress. Construction is not at the level required to support, facilitate and sustain the wider economy and until the industry reaches about 12% of GDP, Ireland’s economy will underperform.”

The Communications Director says that there are certain issues, which must be addressed by the industry, and these will be singled out at the conference. “Over the last year, the Government has introduced a number of initiatives to improve housing and infrastructure delivery. Each has some positive impact. However, the Government still considers construction a service industry that will grow when it can provide the work. This industry has the potential to be so much more.  Yes, to deliver the housing and infrastructure but also to deliver world-class construction products and services and to grow exports significantly.” Dempsey points to the success of the Irish construction industry’s Mechanical and Electrical arm as a great success story. “Why not have an Irish construction industry that conquers niches in the expected $10 trillion construction market? What’s required now is a joint Government and industry strategy focussed on building strong domestic companies of scale with the potential to become international players. The Department of Housing is not equipped on its own to deliver such a strategy and the Department of Enterprise and other State Agencies such as Solas, IDA and Enterprise Ireland must align behind the industry now so Ireland inc. can grab this enormous opportunity to generate thousands of jobs and billions in exports.”

So what can we expect from the Construction Industry Federation’s annual conference? Through a wide variety of tastemakers and leaders of industry, including An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and CIF President Dominic Doheny, the conference programme will outline the positive changes and challenges that the industry faces over the coming years, as well as identifying the factors we need to improve in order to maintain our competitiveness on a global scale.

Global Trends & Influences

Dominic Thasarathar will set the tone of the conference with his presentation. As Autodesk’s primary thought-leader and evangelist for the Construction, Energy and Natural Resources sectors, Thasarathar will be focusing on global mega trends in terms of construction, in particular, managing strategy and technological changes in the coming years. Thasarathar says that this coming decade is set to see some of the most significant and fundamental economic, demographic, and technological change ever witnessed. His address will investigate the impact of these changes on the construction industry.

A New Business Model

Perspectives on the industry’s future business models, skills requirements, building methodologies and standards will be challenged and discussed during a panel discussion between Tom Costello, Head of Construction at IPUT, Marian Finnegan, Chief Economist, Cushman and Wakefield, Tom Dunne, Head of School of Surveying and Construction Management at DIT and Fergal Murphy, Director at Insulated Panels and Benchmark by Kingspan. Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Construction Consultancy will outline an action plan to modernise the Irish construction industry and the future of the construction industry’s labour and business model. Farmer has nearly 30 years of experience in the construction and real estate sectors and has become a recognised commentator and thought leader in the UK. He has been at the forefront of emerging UK residential market segments such as Build-to-Rent and Later Living and is well placed to comment on the current state of the Irish construction industry.

Construction 2030

Simon Hart will be talking about the future of a digitised construction industry. As leader of the Smart Infrastructure Team at Innovate UK, he is at the forefront of technological advances in the industry. Hart will be on hand to discuss how the digital transformation of construction heralds innovation in both processes and new ways of working and asking what do these innovative ways of working look like, and how should the industry be adapting? This talk will be aptly followed by a panel discussion about delivering a digital future for the construction industry.

Industry leaders Eoin Vaughan of Mercury Engineering, Dr. Claire Penney, of Watson IOT for Buildings, IBM and David O’Brien, Senior Construction Advisor and Chair of the Government Construction Contracts Committee, Office of Government Procurement will discuss the challenges and positive changes that lie ahead.

Construction 2040: Building An International Construction Industry

As we move towards a vision of Ireland in 2040 envisaged in the National Planning Framework, what must the industry and Government do now to be equipped to compete in the international economy? Eoin Murphy, TD, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government will outline what Ireland will look like in 2040 in his ministerial address to open this discussion. Following this, industry titans, Philip Lee from Philip Lee Solicitors, Donal Murphy, Head of Infrastructure and Credit Investments, Irish Strategic Investment Fund, Tony Horan President, Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland and Shane MacSweeney Partner – Government and Infrastructure Advisory, EY will discuss a range of perspectives on Ireland’s built environment in 2040 and how we can develop an international construction industry.



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