Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 4 Number 1 Contents futurebuilding 47
Volume 4 Number 1
I think education is a key to the success of
At Thiess, we have formalised a partnership with
MEGT Australian Apprenticeship Centre to equip our
apprentices and trainees with the skills to meet future
project commitments. This nationwide agreement
will help streamline systems and processes of
education quali cations within a federal Australian
An important thing regarding apprentices and
graduates is that we all need to maintain these
programs through the tough times. Too often, the
rst thing we do is cut our apprenticeships or cut
our graduate programs, so the future leaders of our
industry are left wallowing for some years.
We also need to increase diversity within our
ranks, including the number of women. Construction
is very much a blokey business, and it can only be a
better industry with more women in it.
We need to think about how we will meet the
demands of generations Y and Z, and whatever comes
next, and the work-life balance that these people are
We also need to address issues of
underemployment and increased workforce
participation, and whether 65 really is the right time
for very skilled and very experienced people to be
encouraged to leave the workforce. We can nd
some great employees out there at the moment, if we
are prepared to work harder on some of these things.
We also need to stop blaming the unions for all of
our productivity and cost issues. On every Enterprise
Bargaining Agreement (EBA) there will be union
signatories and employer signatories, so we must
accept that some responsibility for where we are at
and where we are going is with us.
We need to be realistic about what we can
achieve, but we also need to understand the changes
necessary, and we have a part in that change. We
just need to stop blaming the unions for everything
It's a bit of an industrial relations jungle out there
-- it has been for many years -- but somehow we need
to sit down and try to nd a compromise that works,
not only for us and the unions, but also for Australia
as a whole.
New, innovative technologies and processes are
also in demand to service emerging markets that
are linked to our more traditional infrastructure-
The growth in operations and maintenance has
been increasing across a number of sectors. In the
energy sector, we'll see enormous growth in the long-
term maintenance of Lique ed Natural Gas (LNG)
and Coal Seam Gas (CSG) assets, and in the delivery
of social infrastructure, such as new hospitals.
Alternatively, through the growing capital works
programs of the utilities asset base, there will be more
operations and maintenance options available.
As clients become more sophisticated, they are
looking for contractors to become involved from
a whole-of-life asset perspective. There is more
willingness to consider innovative procurement
models that are not limited to the construction of
This includes asset management services and
facilities management to drive operational bene ts
and maximise the lives of the assets.
Some of the more important innovations in
21st-century technology include the iPhone, iPad,
driverless cars, electric car charging stations,
Nintendo Wii, YouTube and Facebook. There are a
whole lot of things out there that are going to change
how we currently do our business.
Technology is critical. I read an incredible fact
recently: today, there are more transistors made in a
year than there are grains of rice grown in a year. That
gives you some idea of where technology is going.
The point I'm making, of course, is the importance
of the power of information and data.
The challenge for us is how we extract information
from all of the infrastructure we build in order to
extend its useful life.
Perhaps our opportunity is to shift our role
from just being a construction partner to being a
Innovation, however, is not just limited to some of
the technologies available; it includes the processes,
the methodologies and the systems that allow us to
create value for all of our clients.
To summarise, the key challenges and
opportunities facing the Australian infrastructure
market will demand vision and agility, valuing our
people and looking for innovation. Collaboration
with clients, governments and the industry overall
will provide the insight we need to make the right
decisions at the right time.
Before I conclude, though, I would also like to
share some nal observations on how we shore up
our infrastructure future.
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