ARTICLE: The Importance of Upskilling in Building and Construction
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Text by Ben Breen, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Global Head of Construction.

While the building and construction sector is one of the largest industries contributing 13 percent to the global GDP, there is a substantial need for innovation in the industry. Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Global Construction Survey found that with every $1 billion spent on construction projects, $127 million is wasted due to poor project management.

Construction work has been traditionally more reliant on human labor and as a result, it was one of the hardest hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, change is happening. Even though most building and construction projects were forced to a halt, innovation and digitalisation are being propelled to the forefront to overcome these pandemic-induced challenges so that business continuity does not suffer.

There has been an increase in investment on technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, and modularization to boost productivity and enhance project efficiency. This has improved work efficiency and helps to futureproof the industry by ensuring continuity in operations so that projects can transition seamlessly.

While innovation and new technologies are critical, people still remain at the core of project management in construction. 

Technology is Driven by People

Technologies and new inventions can improve work efficiency and accuracy, but they require skilled individuals to oversee them and utilise its potential. Many projects are running inefficiently, resulting in overruns on budget and timeline. Our Pulse of the Profession survey 2021 revealed that 43 percent of construction projects exceeded timelines while 40 percent of construction projects exceeded planned budgets.

Even with technologies in place, it is important to equip project leaders in the building and construction industry with project management skills for better project outcomes. An efficient project manager will have the necessary skillset to lead projects to completion not only on time, but also within budget. They should also have an agile mindset and be flexible towards imminent changes so that work can carry on.

Not even the most advanced technologies can guarantee on-time and on-budget project completion, if the project managers themselves are ill-equipped to ensure smooth completion and successful outcome of a project.

Recognising the Need for Upskilling

With a comprehensive understanding of the demand and challenges the construction industry faces, PMI has collaborated with leading global construction organisations worldwide to develop a project management course tailored specifically for building and construction professionals.

The Construction Professional in Built Environment Projects (CPBEP) was launched last year and within the first week of its launch, there were more than 500 construction professionals enrolled in the course. The capstone exam to earn the CPBEP certification is projected to be available as a pilot very soon.

Aside from improving project outcomes, upskilling employees is also key to retaining them.

While competing priorities are pulling L&D professionals in many directions, LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report identified that skilling remains the top priority for them. When we combine the upskilling and reskilling priorities with digital upskilling, skills emerge as the most pressing concern across the world with a whopping 60 percent in Asia Pacific region focused on upskilling and reskilling.

This is especially true for the youth, who have much shorter attention spans now. In order to retain them, companies and managers must provide them with new opportunities for them to grow faster as compared to previous generations. It is also important to align their career goals with organisational goals, for them to feel passionate and connected to their job so that they will choose to stay on.

The Importance of Thinking Ahead

The CPBEP is designed to help professionals advance their project management skills, and the learnings from this course will help to keep project managers’ on track to ensure that construction projects will run efficiently within scope, time frame, and budget.

Organisations investing in employee development will definitely be able to reap rewards in the near future, saving the companies time and money. Young employees will also be empowered to drive change from within their workplaces, allowing them to flourish and add greater value to their organisations.