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The key to career success as a Construction Manager: Gain diverse experience

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Updated: 02 Nov 2018

A diverse technical foundation and strong communication, problem solving and decision making soft skills are required for any aspiring Construction Manager, according to recruiting experts Hays Construction.

Based on a survey of over 950 construction professionals in Australia and New Zealand and the in-depth insights of 21 industry experts, and published in a report The Road to Construction Manager, almost half (49 per cent) of construction professionals surveyed have more than 21 years of experience in the industry. Over this time, 59 per cent have built their technical knowledge through education and upskilling on-the-job while also filling a diverse range of roles onsite on their way to the top construction job.

This on-the-job learning has been supported by employers, of whom almost all (97 per cent) provide opportunities for all or some staff to upskill in the latest industry trends or new technology and tools. The most common upskilling strategies are mentorships or coaching (67 per cent), time off to attend conferences or seminars (63 per cent), on-the-job stretch opportunities or project involvement (49 per cent) and paid memberships to online resources (32 per cent).

As for levels of formal education in the industry, the research shows variety, with 21 per cent of construction professionals holding a Certificate III or IV in Building and Construction, 14 per cent a Certificate III/IV in Work Health & Safety, 11 per cent a Diploma of Building & Construction (Building) and eight per cent a Bachelor of Construction Management.

To succeed in construction, professionals must add to this technical foundation a range of soft skills. According to respondents, the most important soft skills required are communication (71 per cent), problem solving (45 per cent) and decision making (28 per cent).

Employers and employees differ over skill expectations

Hays also found that 55 per cent of Construction Managers said the shortage of skilled professionals is the biggest issue facing the industry today, while 56 per cent would consider recruiting from overseas to fill the gap in domestic supply.

However, employees and employers are out of step in their skill expectations, since an overwhelming 88 per cent of construction professionals believe they have the necessary technical skills to advance their career.

The report also shows:

  • Construction remains a male-dominated industry with men accounting for 90 per cent of surveyed respondents;
  • Being able to make tangible and real world contributions to the built environment and seeing the physical results of their work was the key attraction of a career in construction for 37 per cent of survey respondents;
  • A lack of career progression opportunities (77 per cent), ongoing learning and development (59 per cent) and flexible work practices (51 per cent) would stop them from considering a job at a particular organisation;
  • 55 per cent of Construction Managers surveyed said that the shortage of skilled professionals is the biggest issue facing the construction industry today. This was followed by government funding and support (20 per cent) and the speed of new systems and technology changes (14 per cent;
  • 66 per cent of survey respondents recommend aspiring Construction Managers gain labouring skills;
  • Just 43 per cent of survey respondents are aware of the latest technology and digital trends relevant to their job and/or industry. A further 51 per cent are aware ‘to some extent’;
  • On a scale of 1 to 100, survey respondents on average rated the state of available systems and technologies (software and hardware) in their industry at 53, midway between traditional and innovative;
  • As for who is responsible for upskilling construction workers on the latest technology, an overwhelming majority (92 per cent) believe both employers and employees must be accountable;
  • Training and development opportunities was nominated as a professional challenge by 39 per cent of construction professionals; Given the vital importance of Work Health and Safety, it is perhaps surprising that only 69 per cent of construction professionals surveyed are aware of the latest regulations in this area relevant to their role.


For more, please see our report The Road to Construction Manager at www.hays.net.nz/construction-manager.

About Hays

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

For further information please contact Adam Shapley, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand, on adam.shapley@hays.net.nz or +64 (0) 9 375 9424.

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