The inaugural building forum “Leading for the Future” held in Auckland recently has laid down the foundations for the long-term future of the industry, according to Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones.
“It was a hugely significant day for construction. For the first time I brought together the most important people in the industry to discuss the future implications for the sector,” Mr Jones says.
“This summit will create a road map for the industry as the economic and climatic times change around us. Construction has an important role to play in the housing affordability question but, like everything else, it is subject to global and local factors which will need to be anticipated, considered and addressed.
“I was pleased that the industry leaders were enthusiastic about being given a platform to express their ideas and views on the number of big issues construction will face in the long term.”
Mr Jones says the global context relates to factors such as population growth, climate change, higher oil prices, growing consumer preference for energy-efficient and environmentally-sustainable products, quality of building products, land shortage and economic volatility.
Locally, he says the trends show a slowing population growth but a changing demographic — ie, faster household growth as a result of smaller family and household sizes, ageing population, greater ethnic diversity, population growth concentrated in the urban areas, especially in the Auckland region, increasing energy costs due to supply constraints and increasing fuel costs, increased land costs and availability in urban areas, housing affordability and an economic downturn.
Risks and opportunities
“This summit explored those implications for construction. It also looked at risks and opportunities and at sector productivity growth, which is low in comparison to construction sectors in other developed countries and in comparison to other sectors of the New Zealand economy,” Mr Jones says.
“Also discussed was the urban population growth and increased transport and energy costs influencing people to be close to where they live, work and play.
“Sector leaders were also asked to consider the barriers to achieving intensive residential developments that are acceptable and affordable to consumers, including families with children.
“And, what are the critical issues that must be overcome for the sector to demonstrate a coherent approach to intensive residential development?”
Mr Jones says he expected the attendant industry shakers and movers to also decide whether a collective think-tank would be an effective way for industry, local and regional government, and central government to work together to address the challenges confronting construction.
“We are searching for a coherent blueprint for the future of construction, and the forum has let us put down the foundations for that road map,” Mr Jones says.