13 Feb 2020 19:28 IST

Construction managers need to be future-ready

With increasing demand for world-class infrastructure, project management skills are sought after

With more Indians travelling to international destinations these days, and being exposed to quality infrastructure in the countries they visit, it’s no surprise that they expect similar sophistication and facilities in their own cities and towns. The construction sector, that had been hit by the slowdown for over a year, has seen a recent revival as activity is picking up across the industry.

The demand for world-class infrastructure in new buildings is one of the drivers behind the revival of the construction industry today. The evolution of users and their tastes has resulted in a changed outlook for the sector itself. And the superior quality, strict delivery schedules and adherence to budgets that are being demanded from clients has fuelled the need to improve internal systems, process and human resources.

Another reason has been that the emergence of one of the largest youth populations globally has made India a hugely attractive market. The immense potential they see from the retail revival has brought several international players to India in search of their share of the pie.

The upgrade mode

With many construction MNCs and project management companies now operational in India, this has encouraged their Indian counterparts to raise the bar and adhere to the new standards. Many large Indian construction companies have gone into upgrade mode, training their senior employees in the latest construction technologies, and the impact is visible even at the entry level. The direct hiring from the engineering colleges has been on the decline and employers’ expectations from entry-level employees and management trainees is much higher now.

Today, larger organisations in the construction sector expect the entry-level candidates to be fully equipped and well-versed with construction project management (CPM) techniques. This not only includes the exposure to construction management but also knowledge and exposure to all aspects of contract agreements and costs, value engineering, tender management, planning, scheduling and project monitoring.

Better equipped

Along with this, the person should possess excellent client management skills, ability to manage various consultants and should be capable of shouldering responsibilities for the timely delivery of the project from the pre- and post-tender stages within the agreed cost parameters. The construction project manager today is expected to have professionals possessing excellent communication and inter-personal skills, leadership qualities, negotiation skills with the ability to multi-task. Prior experience with high-rise projects is always an added advantage for professionals entering the workforce.

In these changing times, artificial intelligence and machine learning along with robotics, IoT, BIM, and 3D printing are fast changing the way the construction industry is operating. Therefore, it is not only important to know the theories but to think out-of-the-box as well.

To excel in this field, one cannot any longer bank upon just a construction degree. Those expecting to make a mark in this field should get further qualified by enrolling in programmes that offer techno-commercial subjects with a hands-on approach. This value addition will help them become better equipped for the competitive future.

(The writer is Associate Dean and Director of School of Real Estate, RICS School of Built Environment.)