Connecting New Zealand

Contractors look to technology to overcome workforce woes

31 Oct 2018

New information released from NZ’s civil construction industry shows civil contractors are increasingly looking to adopt new technologies, with 77 per cent looking to technology to help them increase labour productivity.

But workforce issues continue to hinder the success of the sector, with 63 per cent of contractors saying their needs for staff will increase and 80 per cent naming a lack of skilled workers in their top three challenges for recruiting staff.

Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Silcock and Teletrac Navman Construction Industry Specialist Jim French hosted a webinar yesterday to explore newly-released technology and workforce findings from the 2018 Construction Industry Survey.

Mr Silcock said in addition to digital engineering and new equipment such as drones, contractors were introducing integrated workflow management, fleet tracking and GPS monitoring systems to improve productivity and efficiency for existing staff and equipment.

“Ultimately, technology can reduce staff numbers required. But it also drives us towards requiring a higher-skilled workforce. We need to start recruiting people who are technology-ready into businesses, and then training them from there.”

He said the current construction skills shortage was a real problem, and the industry was working to overcome this by raising the profile of careers in the industry, retaining skilled workers and working with government to build skills development into projects.

“We’re seeing some of the costs increasing as demand exceeds supply. That puts into question project outcomes, delivery dates and profitability. It creates risk for businesses. In this environment, people are adopting new technologies. That is seen as a solution, but also a challenge because of a lack of people with skills.”

Mr Silcock said the civil construction industry was busy, well-resourced, increasingly technology-focussed, and in need of more motivated and skilled workers. He said if the skills couldn’t be found in New Zealand, more recruitment from overseas may be necessary.

The 2018 Construction Industry Survey was conducted by Colmar Brunton, and composed in partnership between construction technology company Teletrac Navman and CCNZ, which represents more than 400 civil construction companies across New Zealand.

The 2018 Survey received responses from 159 senior managers from across the construction industry. An earlier release of findings from the survey data led to calls for a procurement reset from government officials and initiated the EPIC campaign to illustrate the benefits of working on New Zealand’s civil infrastructure. An earlier release of findings in August focussed on civil infrastructure procurement issues.

The Technology and Skills in Civil Construction webinar can be viewed online at




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