Participants learned about the challenges and future trends in the construction industry from an experienced project management professional.
Dr Amin Akhavan Tabassi, Senior Lecturer of Project Management, Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), United Kingdom, was speaking at the online talk titled “Career Advancement in the Construction Industry: National and Global Perspectives”. The event organised today by the School of Science & Technology and the Penang Regional Centre, was attended by about 40 people.
He said the global construction industry is predicted to grow by over 70% by 2025, and has benefited from the increasing urban-rural migration that created a demand for affordable housing.
He elaborated that the industry will witness a future trend of refurbishing old buildings, since 70% to 90% of all buildings that needed to be provided in the next 10 or 20 years already exist. “In the UK, over 80% of the 2025 building stock has already been built. In Australia, over 80% of the 2020 office building stock has been built, with the average age of Australia’s office stock exceeding 27 years. We have a similar scenario in Hong Kong, with existing buildings 10 to 40 years old.”
He continued, “In Kuala Lumpur, the existing stock of office buildings are 85% of that required.” He said the industry faces the challenge to turn the existing stock of buildings into sustainable, energy-efficient buildings and to strengthen and refit the many aged infrastructure projects.
Dr Amin listed four key areas that will impact the construction industry: market and customers; sustainability and resilience; society and workforce; and politics and regulations.
He mentioned the high market demand for residential and new infrastructure projects in developing countries. He added that projects in the future would be bigger and more complex, e.g.the undersea tunnel project in China or to address ageing infrastructure (1 in 3 German railway bridges are over 100 years old).
Regarding sustainability and resilience, he highlighted the scarcity of raw materials, solid waste production, resilience of buildings against disasters, and gas emissions all of which can lead to global warming, resource depletion, ozone depletion, reduction of biodiversity, waste production, and water, air and land pollution.
Speaking on society and workforce, he said the industry must deal with urbanisation and housing crisis, talent and ageing workforce, community opposition to projects, and politicisation of construction decisions. Among the challenges from politics and regulations are complex regulatory requirements, slow permit and approval process, and corruption.
Dr Amin called for industry transformation in line with IR 4.0 and the adoption of best practices, such as semi-automated construction equipment; new construction technologies e.g. 3D printing; digital technologies and big data; innovative construction models; enhanced management of sub-contractors and suppliers; rigorous project monitoring; sustainable products; continuous training and knowledge management; and coordinated communication with civil society.
He felt that the industry is lagging in the use of technology to facilitate operations and the management of project activities. He urged those interested in a career in construction to help make the industry more innovative, taking advantage of big data, internet of things, robots and so forth.
Ir Mohd Firdaus Mohamad Idris, Head of Heavy Maintenance Unit, Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, meanwhile talked about pursuing tertiary qualifications for career advancement.