Govt announces action plan to lift workforce, productivity in construction of infrastructure

Source: 1News

The Government has announced a new action plan expected to help lift the workforce and productivity to build houses, schools, roads, rail and hospitals throughout the country.

The Government-industry Construction Sector Transformation Plan, launched today, will see the Government and industry create a long-term workforce plan and strengthen the industry’s voice in training to shape the Reform of Vocational Education (RoVE).

The plan is also expected to help foster cooperation through information sharing and education programmes; promote simpler, shorter contracts which don't overburden subcontractors in their dealings with bigger companies; develop a mental health strategy to support better mental health in the trades; and run diversity campaigns to encourage women and young people into construction. 

“The action plan launched today delivers on the Government’s Construction Sector Accord promise in April to develop a tangible plan that ensures industry has the right skills, the right people, and the right internal coordination to lift its productivity and take advantage of the quarter of a trillion dollars of public and private construction work expected over the next five years,” Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa said in a statement.

“This plan is a blueprint for sorting out the construction sector’s long-term challenges around risk, overly complex contracts, skills development and much more. It’s a very significant step in the right direction.

“We’ll be working together with all the players to smooth out the boom and bust of the building cycle; address chronic skills shortages; reform New Zealand’s building consenting system; make procurement fairer; and improve mental health in the sector.”

Ms Salesa called the "hands-off approach" of the previous National-led government "ineffective" in meeting the needs of the construction and building sector.

"Labour productivity growth has been dire – averaging just 0.6 per cent between 2011 and 2017, and that’s meant building in New Zealand has cost more than it should. By having a smarter, more coordinated construction industry we can grow construction activity and put downward pressure on the price of building things like houses," Ms Salesa said.

The plan is expected to take advantage of an "oncomng tide of construction activity expected in the next few years, especially given the Government is constructing so many state homes and rebuilding our schools and hospitals".

Construction activity throughout the country is expected to total $214.9 billion over the next five years, with the figure expected to rise following the Government's announcement last month of a $12 billion investment to combat New Zealand's infrastructure deficit over the next five years.

“This plan will give building and construction businesses the confidence to train and hire more workers to meet the oncoming tide of construction work. No wonder our construction workforce and apprentice numbers have hit record highs.”

However, National leader Simon Bridges said while Labour is good at making announcements, the party is unable to deliver on its promises.

“Labour has been so incompetent that it won’t get any major infrastructure started this term," Mr Bridges said in a statement.

"It’s failed to deliver KiwiBuild, it hasn’t started light rail down Dominion Road and it hasn’t delivered rapid rail in the Golden Triangle that it promised. Literally, all it has done is stop National’s projects going ahead. We have wasted three years.

"Any attempt to announce new infrastructure projects this week won’t in reality see the light of day. If the Prime Minister wants an honest campaign, she should start by admitting that while she’s great at announcements, she doesn’t believe in and can’t deliver infrastructure."