Construction professionals not well catered for

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AUT University Master of Construction Management Programme director Dr Tony Lanigan tells it like it really is …




In New Zealand the staggering figure of more than $20 billion is spent every year on construction. Of that total, about $5 billion is spent solely on infrastructure, a further $7 billion on commercial construction and another $8 billion on residential construction.

 


From a tertiary education perspective, I don’t think construction industry professionals have been particularly well catered for in New Zealand.

 


Many of the existing construction industry professionals in New Zealand have been trained in Britain, where the discipline of construction management is now recognised by universities as a valid subject area for research and teaching.

 


With this in mind, together with AUT University, the industry and I have created the Master of Construction Management programme – the first in New Zealand.

 


The development of the programme in conjunction with leading industry stakeholders will help to satisfy a demand for professional managers who are not only technically competent in a building and engineering sense but, in addition, are also competent to manage the complex interactions that make up today’s building projects.

 


Fletcher Construction – Building Division general manager Peter Neven has told me New Zealand needs to establish a similar commitment to education in construction management as in Britain.

 


“Fletcher Construction has, for many years, had to boost its management capability through recruitment in Britain. We have come to recognise the need for professional construction management training in New Zealand, and decided that AUT University was the one institution that showed a keen interest and commitment to what we wanted to achieve.

 


“We also approached other stakeholders in the construction industry, and all have indicated their support for the Master of Construction Management programme.”

 


From my experience, contractual arrangements in the building industry are wide and varied. Conventionally, design consultants and building contractors are employed directly by a client.

 


However, today I see more and more instances where the client employs the design team directly in the early stages of a project and when the scope of the project becomes more defined, the design contracts are novated to the main contractor.

 


Design management with the full range of interactions with the client, regulatory authorities and other stakeholders calls for special skills within the contractor organisation as the fuzzy boundaries of design need to be consolidated into a contractual and commercial framework which can be managed successfully and profitably by the contractor.

 


From my point of view, AUT University is preparing to help the construction industry cope with the changes introduced by the Building Act 2004. The licensed building practitioner regime aims to improve control of, and encourage better practices in, design and construction. Along with increased environmental awareness, increasing vigilance with respect to occupational health and safety, and Department of Building and Housing regulation, managers in the construction industry need to be have broad competencies in terms of design and building technology and management practice.

 


It’s a real challenge for a tertiary institution to satisfy the high expectations of the construction industry.

 


In recognising the special management needs of the construction industry, AUT has developed a Memorandum of Understanding with one of Britain’s leading providers of tertiary level courses in construction management, Salford University. The programme has also been developed collaboratively with local contractors and design consultants.