In the lead up to the 2023 Future of Construction Summit, Australian Constructors Association CEO Jon Davies looks into this year’s theme – FCON disrupted – and the benefits that could come from the radical overhaul of obstructive industry practices.
By Jon Davies, CEO, Australian Constructors Association.
This year’s Future of Construction Summit (FCON23) is set to ignite positive change. It will see government, industry and union leaders come together to discuss a collective and disruptive response to the industry’s challenges.
Appropriately themed ‘FCON Disrupted’, this year’s event is based on the premise that the industry cannot afford to continue down the path of slow incremental change. It is time to fundamentally disrupt how it operates, if for no other reason than to ensure the industry has sufficient workers to deliver the infrastructure that Australia can afford.
With both influencers and decision makers in the room, a new audience will be descending on the summit, the disrupters. Yes, the voices of the industry’s emerging leaders will be amplified – Gen Z. FCON23’s Gen Z panel discussion is highly anticipated with five industry graduates and undergraduates set to send a compelling message to the audience.
Disrupt or die
Over the two days of the summit, speakers will tease out themes from the Australian Constructors Association’s report, Disrupt or die, released in late 2022. What disruption is most required – industry diversity and inclusion, working hours and flexibility, environmental sustainability, productivity or risk allocation? Maybe the answer is all.
In the Disrupt or die report, productivity improvements are identified as the critical link to the future success of Australia’s construction industry. The Australian Constructors Association believes the biggest opportunity to improve industry productivity lies in improving how projects are procured, delivered and governed – essentially white-collar activities. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to improve white-collar productivity quickly whilst blue-collar productivity will likely take more time and, arguably, is reliant on the former.
Technology has a role to play in this. There is no shortage of technology solutions available to improve the efficiency of the construction industry and many of these will be exhibited at Day 2 of the summit. The issue is, however, there are many barriers to using them. Several of the Day 1 panels will explore how barriers to digital technology adoption can be removed to promote transparent sharing of information and investment in technology.
FCON23 is about thinking big and committing to bold new ways of working.
Imagine if we could close the productivity gap between construction and other major industries? We could be saving $47 billion annually and, most importantly, improving the lives of workers.
Imagine if the industry could deliver a $1 billion project with a two-page contract? We could build an industry based on trust that innovates and finally achieves digital by default.
Imagine if women made up 30 per cent of the industry’s workforce? We would enjoy a fresh perspective that all of industry would benefit from.
Imagine if the industry could build from a bedroom? Even site engineers could have flexibility to work from home.
Imagine if the construction industry could reach net zero in just five years? We could all breathe easy.
It is all possible, but the industry needs to shift its mindset around change. Incremental change and 10-year horizons are out. Change must happen now.
A transformed industry
Disruption is daunting but it is less risky than continuing the current course. Everyone has a part to play – government, industry and unions.
The government, as the nation’s largest infrastructure client, has great power to disrupt. It is positioned to encourage states to procure in a way that maximises productivity, reduces the impact of construction on the environment and unleashes innovation. It is positioned to incentivise the states to procure in a way that promotes training and upskilling of the workforce. It could even mandate adoption of initiatives that promote greater participation of women in the industry. The opportunities are endless.
Industry and unions also have the power to disrupt. That is why the Australian Constructors Association will be making a pledge to do things differently and attendees at FCON23 will be the first to hear.
Join us and together we will make Australia’s construction industry the envy of the world.
For more information on FCON visit futureofconstructionsummit.com