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Discussed Construction Technological Trends with Industry Expert Rebecca Casson

The construction industry has undergone immense transformations over the years. Construction professionals have seen it all through the pandemic, adopting the latest technology or fluctuating supply chains. This least digitized sector was able to survive under such pressure.

But do you know how? So, here we welcome Rebecca Casson, Chief Executive Officer in Master Builders Victoria in Australia, to shed some light on the technological struggles of the construction sector.

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Who Did We Interview?

Rebecca is the CEO of Master Builders Victoria - the first woman to be appointed as CEO in the Association’s 147-year history.

Rebecca has enhanced MBV’s reputation as a credible industry voice by developing strong relationships with the Victorian Government and working collaboratively with industry unions and employer associations.

Rebecca has a strong background in government, industry and the not-for-profit sector. She has held senior roles across a wide range of portfolios including international engagement, government relations, corporate diplomacy, and major projects, together with public policy development and implementation.

Rebecca currently serves on the Board of Master Builders Insurance Brokers, Incolink and the Victorian Skills Authority and is the Chairperson of the Building Industry Consultative Committee.

Let Us Quickly Get To Our Expert’s Point Of View.

Question 1: In the age of COVID-19, how do you see the construction industry in the year 2022? Do you think this year will be a "digital year" for construction professionals?

As Victoria's leading voice for building and construction, Master Builders Victoria (MBV) is a passionate advocate for the sector. Quite simply, for our members, time is money -especially with the building and construction industries experiencing severe supply chain issues and trade shortages.

MBV welcomes any digital measures that can cut red tape and improve planning outcomes for all Victorians. MBV has commended the Australian State Government of Victoria for delivering a more robust building and planning system while unlocking land more quickly for future housing supply.

While digital technologies such as fully digital plans and project schedules on building and construction sites are growing, our industry is traditionally slow to take up new technologies.

As work on building and construction sites continued during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no real driver for increased take-up of digital technologies. There was, however, a move to increase the use of digital billing.

We welcome future digital reforms that provide greater consumer protection, strengthen building standards, and cut red tape.

Question 2: The construction industry has undergone dynamic changes over the years. What do you consider as the biggest challenge for this industry now?

As Victoria and the world exited the COVID-19 pandemic, rising material costs, supply chain delays, skills shortages, and labor shortages have cast a shadow over the building and construction industry.

Our industry is seeing a shortage of electricians, bricklayers, carpenters, drillers, concreters, roofers, plumbers, construction managers, painters, engineers, scientists, architects, and building surveyors, to name just a few.

These challenges are causing mounting pressure, with the vast majority, if not all, of the state's builders experiencing a challenge to their profitability.

At MBV, we have been calling it a profitless boom. Sadly, several building and construction companies have been liquidated or placed into administration during the last financial year, attracting negative media coverage.

While the number of insolvencies fell to a historical low in the second half of 2020, insolvencies have started to rise again in 2022 and July is usually the peak time of the year for insolvencies.

We are also seeing pressures concerning increased living costs and rising interest rates across the country, which is putting extra pressure on Victorian builders and the broader building and construction industry.

Many builders in the Australian residential building sector have signed fixed-priced contracts. And If builders cannot pass cost increases onto clients, there is a risk of insolvency, and clients may end up with half-finished homes.

That's why MBV has continued to advocate for the Victorian Government to include rise and fall clauses in domestic and commercial building contracts.

Question 3: What potential do you see in the latest construction technology trends? Are they capable of boosting the productivity of construction professionals?

Our industry continues to be innovative and explore options that improve how we build. Any innovation needs to ensure we deliver a quality and sustainable built environment.

One exciting new construction technique from traditional methods is the development of 3D printing technology. However, MBV has not seen any documentation showing that 3D printing technology fits the National Construction Code (NCC) performance requirements.

The NCC sets out the minimum requirements for certain buildings' safety, health, amenity, accessibility, and sustainability. Our industry is happy to embrace new technology, providing it meets all health and safety requirements.

Research has shown that increased use of digital technologies in building and construction leads to improved time management and scheduling and reduced waste, leading to decreased project costs.

The increased use of digital technologies, promoted by the Victorian Government's e-comply project, is designed to improve the planning system and reduce costs due to delays – and MBV has supported this.

Question 4: Where do you see the construction industry in the next five years? Please share your valuable insights with our readers.

Championing diversity, equity, and inclusion - especially for women in the building and construction industry - is an ongoing goal for MBV.

Gender bias persists in modern workplaces, and we have our heads in the sand if we don't acknowledge that in our industry. We must continue to challenge gender stereotypes and people's attitudes.

MBV is often subjected to colorful comments on social media, mainly when gender parity in our industry is discussed. Everyone has their own point of view.

However, it is evident that the dynamic changes every time there is 50% female participation in a workforce, at a board table or committee, or at a meeting. There is an increase in productivity, and it's all there in the data for everyone to see.

The Victorian Government's Building Industry Consultative Council has developed global-leading policies related to women in construction initiatives, which MBV supports.

Finally, the increased use of digital technologies and offsite construction will improve the efficiency of the building and construction process, leading to fewer delays, fewer cost overruns, and safer sites.

Get to Know Our Influencer

Question 5: In seven words or less, what's your prediction about the transforming construction industry?

Empowering people to build a better future.

Question 6: What's your success mantra?

I continue to be inspired by Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, who has spent decades researching courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.

Brené talks about having the courage to show up, despite not knowing what people will see or think, which reminds me of the women in our industry. It isn't easy when you don't fit the norm, but we must have the courage to show up anyway.

More Details

Rebecca Casson empowers the MBV team to lead a future-ready industry that builds a better world. She is an excellent advocate for the interests of company members and industry in public and government forums, placing members first - all the time, every time.

Her strategic intelligence, work ethic, and awareness of her own ability to shape and influence - both people and situations have enabled her to create history by being appointed by the Victorian Government.