Planning for a post-Covid construction sector

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Construction Sector Accord transformation director Dean Kimpton

The recently released National Construction Pipeline Report shows that the Construction Sector Accord will need to play a vital role in supporting the Covid-19 recovery.

“The Construction Sector Accord principles are now more important than ever,” Construction Sector Accord transformation director Dean Kimpton says.

“We need to build trusting relationships, be bold, value our people and act with collective responsibility.”

Kimpton says the report is based on the sector’s own forecasts, and indicates national construction value could take a 31% hit by 2023.

“However, the forecasts in the report are surrounded by significant uncertainty as the full impact of Covid-19 remains unknown. It’s important to acknowledge that the report also shows promising signs for the future, and that is where the industry should be focused.

“Covid-19 is unlike anything we have ever experienced, and we need to continue to adapt to these changing times to the best of our ability. We have done this superbly so far by proving our resilience during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

“Residential building makes up the bulk of construction activity and is, typically, the hardest hit by changing economic conditions. The report estimates residential activity could drop 43% over the next three years — although recent data from Stats NZ indicates a 46-year high for new home consents,” Kimpton says.

“The sector has come out of Covid-19 in a better position than expected, but this report serves as a reminder that we need to continue to plan and prepare for whatever comes our way.

“Last year, 10% of Kiwis were employed by the construction industry, and we contributed to a fifth of GDP. Covid-19 has been a game changer, and a lot remains uncertain. But we know construction is expected to help lift New Zealand out of our economic situation and be at the forefront of recovery.

“There are steps we should be taking now to accelerate our recovery and help ourselves prepare for the future.

“Embracing the principles of the Construction Sector Accord is one of those steps, and will help our sector perform in this post-Covid environment.”

Accord Steering Group member and People Development Workstream co-lead Bill Newson says there is an opportunity to reset and make a difference.

“Now is the time to be investing in apprenticeships, in training, and upskilling our people so that we grow great people and protect what expertise we have,” Newson says.

“We have a targeted People Development Workstream which aims to build a sustainable workforce through growing people and supporting those in it.

“Work is underway to develop skills across the sector, including informing progress on the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE) and joining a consortium to lead the Construction Centre of Vocational Excellence (ConCOVE).”

Accord Steering Group member and People Development Workstream co-lead Graham Burke says irrespective of what the future pipeline looks like, we need to improve the way we work together and continue to invest in our people.

“Businesses that support and invest in their people are more resilient in slowdowns and are in the best position when the economy improves.

“We need to prioritise each other’s health, safety and well-being, and work in a collaborative and inclusive way. Valuing our people is the key to success.”

Kimpton says great people innovate, create, deliver excellent services, and help drive businesses forward.

“Companies that take the time now to grow their people will be the ones that thrive in this new environment,” he says.

“Before the Accord, we didn’t have a united vision for the future of the sector. The Accord has brought construction leaders and government together so that throughout this pandemic we could protect and support our sector and our workers.

“We are now focused on enabling a united and resilient sector to support all New Zealanders in our recovery.”

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