L to R: Malcolm Fleming (NZIOB CEO), Hon Dr Nick Smith (Minister of Building & Construction), Graeme Birkhead (NZIOB National President).
On Thursday 17th of August in Wellington, the NZIOB provided the platform for the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s (MBE) first public presentation of the 2017 editions of the ‘Construction Pipeline’ and ‘Future Demand for Construction Workers’ reports.
The latter report forecasts the need for an additional 56,000 skilled construction workers being required to support the ongoing construction workload (now a $42b peak in 2020). Our industry therefore needs to formulate some well-considered solutions to the question of where these new 56,000 practitioners are coming from? As the construction sector grapples with the scale of the challenge, there comes a growing recognition that the NZIOB’s proposed ‘STEM in Spades’ program could be a useful tool to enable the industry to meet the vast increase in skilled workers it needs by 2022.
The program name; 'STEM in Spades’ is derived from the view that, with the advent of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other technologies, the construction industry has Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) in abundance. The sector has STEM in spades.
The NZIOB’s interest in attracting college aged students to consider the construction industry, has evolved from its collaboration with Careers NZ’s Big Day Out - Construction program, which was run in Auckland (twice in 2016) and Christchurch (2017). That program took Careers Advisors from local schools on bus trips to hear presentations from young construction practitioners, whom represented the full construction supply chain.
‘STEM in Spades’ builds on this work, and will allow college students from across New Zealand to explore a construction industry job. That career day experience may range from a cup of coffee with a recent graduate or apprentice, through to a full day on a construction site, in a design office, or in a workshop. ‘STEM in Spades’ is an ambitious undertaking, and one that will require external funding to realise.
Upon receiving a short summation of ‘STEM in Spades’ at last week’s NZIOB Awards for Excellence, the Minister for Building and Construction remarked in his presentation to industry that if he is in a position to do so, he looks forward to the opportunity to working with the NZIOB to promote the construction sector to New Zealand’s college aged students.