March 7, 2012

Canadian Construction Association explores “changing face” of industry

Canadian construction must look itself in the mirror and decide if it is ready to adapt and evolve to growing changes in the industry, says the Canadian Construction Association’s (CCA) incoming chair.

“We are going through a period of major change in our industry,” says John Schubert, incoming CCA chair.

“When you think of the makeup of the industry, it is a large percentage of small, owner-operator types of businesses concerned more with their day-to-day activity. They do not really look outward.”

It is this need to look outward at all that is impacting Canadian construction that is the catalyst for this year’s CCA conference theme, The Changing Face of Construction, noted Schubert.

The conference is being held this year from March 11-16, in Savannah, Georgia. It will feature numerous sessions and panel discussions covering topics such as succession planning, emerging construction law issues, labour shortage solutions, workload management and construction delivery process trends.

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The conference will hopefully drive Canadian contractors to pursue innovation and be responsive to change, added Schubert.

“If the market is changing and most of our members are focused internally, how do we get the message out that they are going to have a make a decision are they going to make changes to respond to changes in the marketplace or will they remain the same-old, same-old?”

The keynote speaker at this year’s conference is CBC icon Peter Mansbridge who opens the weeklong event on the morning of Monday, March 12, with his address themed Canada and Canadians in a Changing World.

Schubert says the CBC anchorman has a very strong following and perspective which is perfect to kick-off a conference focused on change for a Canadian industry.

“He is honest and frank in what he says,” explains Schubert.

“For the kind of conference we are having we could have gone to a futurist of some kind but we have done that before. Sometimes, it is nice to get a fresh perspective from someone outside the industry.”

Schubert hopes conference stakeholders explore the various sessions available to them because solutions from project process delivery and collaboration to skilled labour training are ones the industry should learn more about.

With the increase of international construction firms coming into the Canadian marketplace the industry is no longer “a local market” but a global one, he said.

“The reality is that for every two people retiring (in the industry) there is a new person coming in,” he noted.

“We better have a better skilled workforce and better procedures and methods in place to deliver; otherwise, we have no hope in meeting future demands which will ultimately restrict economic growth. The dots do connect but sometimes we do not see how.”

The “takeaways” from the sessions provided at the conference will not just be found in the presentations themselves, added Schubert.

Sessions such as The Changing Face of Construction: How to Adapt? (Tuesday, March 13), BIM: What Contractors Need to Know (Wednesday, March 14) or Doing It Right - Succession Planning (Thursday, March 15) will be geared to generating discussion and audience feedback.

“We wanted more roundtable open discussions and less ‘lecture’. We are trying to get feedback from the audience to find out what is happening in their jurisdiction.”

This year’s conference will also feature the expected CCA council and committee meetings which provide the backbone to the association’s work on industry policy, issues and trends.

Since the summer of 2011 the association has restricted its council and committee structure to help drive more discussion and deliberation at its meeting.

The CCA’s Vertical Building Forum and The Civil Infrastructure Council will meet on Monday, March 12 while the sector meetings for general contractors, manufacturers and suppliers and trade contractors also roll out that same day.

The committee meetings for standard practices, business and market development, innovation and technology, chief operating officers and industry advocacy and regulatory affairs occur on Tuesday, March 13.

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