Corporate training company Alusani Skills & Training Network has partnered with construction consultancy MDA Consulting to find solutions to skills development problems encountered in the construction industry.
“We do market research in conjunction with companies in the construction industry to establish the most pressing training needs. Once we have established what a course should cover, the next step is to match the objectives of the course to the skills of the trainer and that is where the partnership with MDA comes in,” says Alusani MD Imogen Tarita.
She adds that there has been a significant increase in the need for construction-focused training because of the changes and new editions to the standard-form construction contracts that are typically used to execute construction projects.
“These changes have been directed primarily at regulating changes in management and have had a marked impact on the commercial position of contractors and employers.
“An increase in the number of notice requirements, firm time periods for submitting notices and claims, the requirement for impact notices and a new dispute resolution method in the form of adjudication are four of the standard forms currently in use in Southern Africa,” says MDA Consulting director Euan Massey.
MDA Consulting, which provides commercial and legal services to the construc- tion sector, has partnered with Alusani Skills & Training Network to develop a suite of two-day training courses covering the four standard-form construction contracts, as well as specific focus areas to deal with issues such as claims, public-sector procurement and effective construction contract management.
Massey points out that there are a number of construction professionals, who, because of resource constraints, have been promoted rapidly to managerial positions.
“While these professionals are more than technically competent, they do not have the commercial expertise to manage projects effectively. In addition to their lack of experience, the change in construction contracts has left most of the stakeholders in the construction contracts exposed,” he says.
Employers and their advisers, who had to pay a premium for their projects during the construction sector’s financial boom, are not willing to agree favourable construction contract conditions, he adds.
In addition to the changes in standard-form contracts, government is introducing additional provisions aimed at limiting a contractor’s ability to claim for compensation of the changes in the projects they are involved in.
MDA Consulting says it has seen the introduction of additional penalty provisions for poor or substandard quality work and clauses allowing the employer to step in and employ other third-party contractors to carry out the contractor’s obligations where there has been a perceived breach.
“Financiers are cautious. They also require exceptional clauses with which the industry is often not familiar. Clauses entitling full audits of the contractor’s project records are now found in most contracts funded by financiers,” says Massey.
“We provide training for all the standard construction contract laws. We have held courses on the New Engineering Contract 3, Joint Building Contracts Committee (JBCC), General Construction Conditions 2010 (GCC2010) and also the International Federa- tion of Independent Consulting Engineers laws,” says Tarita.
Further, she highlights that Alusani’s focus is on providing course participants with real construction-focused experience and case studies that make all courses more practical and relevant.
“We limit the number of people in our courses. Whereas our competitors will enrol 50 to 60 people for a course, we enrol only 30. This ensures the course participants walk away with the answers that will help them in the field they are in.
“In addition, all our courses offer the necessary continuing professional development points to assist course participants in meeting their education requirements,” she adds.
Alusani also offers post-course support to provide additional information on what is currently happening in the market.
“For instance, the JBCC is in the process of being revised and we are waiting for the outcome of the revision so that we can give course participants the most up-to-date information.
“Also, because what they have learnt in the course will change, we update them on the latest developments through the post- course support process, which is a monthly update sent to the course participants,” says Tarita.
This month, the training company intro- duced a course on the GCC2010 following President Jacob Zuma’s emphasis on investing in and delivering infrastructure projects in South Africa.
Tarita says the decline in activity in the construction sector, following the 2010 FIFA World Cup, did not affect Alusani’s course enrolments.
Most companies have used this as an opportunity to train their staff in preparation for when there is an upturn in construction-industry activity.