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Leadership key to significant change in construction: BuildForce

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by Angela Gismondi

BuildForce Canada recently held its second annual National Construction and Maintenance Industry Strategy Summit bringing together owners, contractors and labour stakeholders who provided input to build on the organization's national strategy, with a focus on improving productivity and workforce retention.
Leadership key to significant change in construction: BuildForce

"This is a follow up of a previous summit that was held back in 2015. At the time we identified six priority issues for the industry. Specifically, we decided to take on productivity and retention," explained Bill Ferreira, executive director of BuildForce Canada, adding two working groups convened following the summit two years ago — one to tackle the issue of productivity, the other to tackle the issue of recruitment and retention.

Other priorities at the 2015 summit included recruitment, training, mobility productivity and stakeholder engagement. The second summit served as a forum to continue to address the challenges outlined in 2015.

"The purpose of this summit was to convene the group again and not only check that the priorities that were identified at the previous summit were still top of mind for the industry, which they were, but also to delve a little more deeply into the issues of productivity and retention," said Ferreira.

BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization that provides information and resources to assist with workforce requirements.

According to a release issued by BuildForce following the summit, Canada's construction industry has a strong safety culture and the goal is to build on those lessons learned and apply the same level of corporate leadership to the productivity challenges that face the sector.

Ferreira said it will require strong senior level engagement to improve productivity at every stage of construction from planning to workforce training.

"I would say the main takeaway from the entire day is that leadership from the very top is required to bring about any significant change within the industry," he noted.

"When leadership at the very top is not directly engaged, little gets done to actually fundamentally change the overall culture in which the workforce operates. To bring about a true change in productivity and the introduction of more productive means of carrying out construction, it really does require not only a strong direction from senior level management but also full engagement on the part of senior level management to ensure that the cultural change that takes place actually does bring about the end result that you are looking for."

The summit brought many different players to the table to discuss the issues.

"It's a unique opportunity to pull together owners, contractors as well as labour providers to actually talk about industry issues," explained Ferreira.

"There are really not a lot of opportunities when those three groups sit down together to talk about issues concerning the construction industry.

"From our perspective, we think that you get a very fulsome discussion of all the issues facing the industry and you get that discussion taking place with all the various stakeholders."

Following this year's summit, BuildForce Canada will be updating the document that was produced as a result of the 2015 summit billed Meeting Construction and Maintenance Workforce Challenges: National Industry Strategy (September 2015) to reflect the comments and ideas discussed this year, build upon some of the strategies that were suggested and identify how to help the industry implement them.

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