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Building in a post-Opal Australia: UTS offers new construction management course

UTS is offering a new construction management course to help builders upskill in an industry under increased scrutiny following high-profile building defects.

UTS is offering a new construction management course to help builders upskill in an industry under increased scrutiny following high-profile building defects.

Public confidence has fallen when it comes to high-rise construction projects, after the high-profile cases of the Mascot and Opal towers in New South Wales, according to a new analysis by RiskWise Property Research.

RiskWise CEO Doron Peleg says the high-profile issues around cladding and defects had created enormous ‘reputational damage’ across the entire industry and because of this, investors had lost interest in high-rise unit developments.

Craig Barry, Director of CKB Projects and Consulting and Course Director at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) says there is now more scrutiny on builders themselves, who will need to make sure their reputation stays in intact or it may cost them commercial opportunities.

“Reputational damage, legal costs, expert witnesses – all of these are expensive but can be avoided,” he says.

This is one of the reasons UTS has opened a Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Construction Management, which helps upskills construction workers to gain the skills they need to become a leader within the industry.

The course has been developed for builders with industry experience looking to move into a management role and teaches them the skills they will need to safely manage large-scale projects.

Critical construction management concepts are core to the course, which will teach students about construction technology, methodology, regulation and management. Cost planning techniques, such as budgeting, estimating, pricing and cost management are also taught, alongside project planning and management skills and legislation and ethics.

Barry, the course director, worked for a structural engineering firm for eight years before starting his own building consulting firm that specialises in defect resolution, remediation, expert witness services.

He says the opportunities available across the industry will have a much greater focus on potential employees that have an understanding of quality processes and defect resolution processes.

“Being able to demonstrate that understanding will be a much greater asset to contractors moving forward,” he says.

As part of the course, students will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge in contracts administration, integrated project delivery, communication and stakeholder management.

UTS has also made a commitment to provide real-world expertise that reflects the realities of the sector, to make sure all the information is relevant and informative.

Barry remains active in the construction industry, with other lecturers and staff also maintaining close ties to the sector.

“I make sure in the early part of the course, students are able to get onto an active multi-storey site to see how they are run and get a feel for how busy a large-scale site can be,” Barry says.

“Presentations from builders help talk through some of the intricacies of the course and allow students to see first-hand the decision-making processes and many moving parts of construction management.

Site visits can involve students being broken up into groups where a builder explains what is happening on the project and the tangible circumstances where things have the potential to go wrong.”

Barry says that some of the best learning experiences on a construction site can come from when things don’t go according to plan.

“The main focus of the course is to really accelerate that student’s practical understanding, and this is from speaking from experience, that you tend to learn the most whilst doing things on-site because there’s that real-life pressure. The sooner you have an understanding of how that pressure can affect the decision making, it’ll just put them in better stead once they’re on site and those real-life pressures exist.

For more information about the Construction Management Course, click here.

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