Construction industry wants highlight its worth to the Government

The construction industry is about more than just building houses.
DAVID GRAY/REUTERS

The construction industry is about more than just building houses.

The construction industry wants the Government to have a proper conversation about what it wants from a sector that is about more than just building houses.

But at the same time, it wants to get past simply pointing the finger at the Government to solve its issues.

The building and construction has its second all-of-industry forum in August, six weeks out from the general election.

Registered Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly says the industry needs to get past pointing the ...
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Registered Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly says the industry needs to get past pointing the finger at the Government.

Constructive Forum, launched last year by the Registered Master Builders Association (RMBA), focussed on collaboration and transformation within the industry so it could better meet the country's needs.

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RMBA chief executive David Kelly said the debate on housing affordability was the most obvious election-year issue, but it was important to understand this was being felt around the globe.

The construction industry is coming together to think about what the medium-term should look like.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

The construction industry is coming together to think about what the medium-term should look like.

"Across the world we are seeing rapid population growth in urban areas which is putting pressure on housing and infrastructure.

"As an industry, we have also been very slow to transform and embrace the latest technological opportunities."

The forum would bring the sector together to look at the overseas story and see how it could be applied in New Zealand.

Kelly said last year's first forum was about bringing together an industry which had previously been big and divided.

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It was the first time leadership from across the sector, which he said had operated in silos, had come together.

"This year it's about recognising we need to put a bit more meat on the bones.

"Where do we go in the medium-term?"

Kelly said construction, along with tourism, had clearly been one of the two biggest drivers of the economy over recent years.

Research overseas had identified problems similar to those facing the New Zealand industry, specifically the attractiveness of work, productivity and procurement.

A skills shortage was a key area to tackle here, and required a rethink of the traditional apprenticeship model.

The success of the industry relied on collaboration to address these issues, but also required action from the Government in its role as a regulator and a major project owner.

Healthy and safety legislation had seen everyone in the industry "reinventing the wheel", but following last year's forum, some of the bigger construction companies were coming together to standardise on the issue.

Kelly said the industry recognised it had previously pointed the finger at the Government to solve everything, however.

"We need to get past that.

"What are we going to do before we say, well, you need to do things?"

That said, Kelly believed the industry did need to highlight to the Government how important it was.

A report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment last year found construction was worth about $30 billion a year, and employed 171,000, making it one of the largest sectors in the economy.

Kelly said the Government needed to consider broader policies relating to building and should think about the environment it wanted to created.

"It's not just about building more houses," he said.

"We need a more well-rounded conversation about the building sector."

 - Stuff

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