Project professionals association the Project Management Institute (PMI) has introduced a series of seven courses to improve project management skills in the construction industry, leading to a Construction Professional In Built Environment Projects (CPBEP) certification.
The construction industry, like many others, is seeing a rise in new technologies such as drones and artificial intelligence, mobile apps, cloud communication, and data management. Their adoption demands different skillsets to complete projects successfully. Add a diverse workforce, and a new skills landscape begins to emerge.
Companies today need professionals with technical as well as power skills to navigate the changing workplace.
“We see improvement in technology adoption, but technology is just an enabler. It’s still people and their skills that are critical to improving project performance,” says PMI Africa business development lead George Asamani.
PMI created the certification in collaboration with construction industry leaders and consultations with project managers who face the twin challenges of balancing technology and talent. The Lean Construction Institute and Construction Industry Institute were integral to developing the certification along with Saudi Aramco, the US Department of Energy, DPR Construction and BHP among others, the association says.
Construction contributes 13% to the global gross domestic product and employs 7% of the world's working population, but has not been performing well, sustaining only 1% yearly growth over the past two decades. Domestically, in South Africa, the construction industry has been depressed for several years even before Covid-19 brought the sector to a halt.
GCR Ratings South Africa, in its Corporate Sector Risk Score, says that risk in the South African construction industry is characterised by the complex nature of work undertaken, as well as the relatively low margins that can be extracted. It adds that lack of skills is especially a risk in the domestic construction sector, PMI says.
Additionally, construction companies face the ongoing threat of delays and cost overruns resulting in loss-making contracts and substantial unanticipated cash outflows. Safety and environmental factors are also concerns often leading to large, unexpected, liabilities that damage reputation and add costs.
GCR, however, expects that a gradual adoption of technology will increase operating efficiencies, enhance skills, improve sustainability, reduce costs and improve profit margins.
A recent PMI survey of more than 40 000 certified Project Management Professionals working in the construction industry found that 70% of construction projects experience scope creep. A further 73% of such projects ended over budget. Moreover, it also found that 72% of construction projects often experienced project delays.
“Construction is a demanding industry subject to the vagaries of weather, supply chain disruptions, and a host of other often uncontrollable variables. It requires a well-versed project manager to bring the work in on time and within budget,” says Asamani.
Government has allocated R812.5-billion for infrastructure projects over the next three years in its latest budget. While this should significantly boost the construction industry, lack of implementation remains a key risk owing to fiscal weakness and capacity constraints, including project management skills.
If the construction industry is to leverage this spend, it needs to accelerate the adoption of technology and upskill employees, particularly project managers responsible for scoping, scheduling and budgeting, he says.
To be eligible for the certification, individuals need three or more years of experience as a project manager, lead or contributor in the construction or built environment. The courses can be taken in any order and present an opportunity for professionals to focus on topics they are most driven to explore.
Learners can either complete individual courses and earn specific micro-credentials or complete all courses in preparation for the capstone exam.
Three of the seven courses offer micro-credentials upon completion of a post-course exam. The micro-credentials award a digital badge to show the user’s mastery of the content. Each course explores a specific area of construction project management, such as communication and risk management.