Timber construction to upskill workers

The Australian construction industry needs to focus more on industry skilling and the enabling of modern construction enterprise capability, a leading construction industry expert has warned.

Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Smart Modern Construction at Western Sydney University David Chandler told the 2019 Timber Offsite Construction conference in Melbourne attempts to quantify the necessary future construction assembly practitioners to be trained for P2 assembly package by 2025 indicated 1125 teams of four to five multi-skilled would be required – 5000 assembly workers for every 10,000 dwellings to be completed per year deploying MMC.

If MMC take up by 2030 was, for example 40 per cent of the market i.e. 60,000 dwelling equivalents, the building industry would require more than 300,000 MMC capable workers.

Professor Chandler said that this will require a massive re-tooling of the modern vocational and university teaching content.

“The Australian construction industry needs to focus more on industry skilling and the enabling of modern construction enterprise capability building than the hype of MMC that have distracted from this investment needed for the last 20-years,’’ he said.

“It is not possible to deliver better, smarter, faster and more assured construction without the necessary capabilities.’’

The Victorian Government has taken the bull by the horns in this matter, launching a pilot programme through the Box Hill Institute to help meet industry demand for project managers and tradespeople who have skills in offsite construction.

The Victorian Government Strategy on Construction Technologies discussion paper identified construction technology as a current priority sector.

Victoria is currently regarded by many as the national leader in construction technologies and a destination for those wanting to development skills and excellence in this field.

The strategy aims to stimulate local construction opportunities and grow market share in the use of innovative building products.

The changes to the National Construction Code in 2016 and the local manufacturing of cross laminated timber and other prefabricated timber elements has provided Victoria with an opportunity to increase its uptake of prefabricated timber construction methods and building systems.

As such, demand for prefabricated timber construction skills and knowledge is expected to grow.

This will generate alternatives to traditional building construction methods and create a skills shortage in the use of prefabricated timber building systems.

The construction industry is currently untrained in the assembly of prefabricated building systems; however, this pilot course will address the shortfall by providing building tradespersons with appropriate training.

This pilot programme is fully subsidised by the Workforce Training Innovation Fund.