More must be done to tackle critical skill shortages in project management and leadership, the head of the Registered Master Builders Association says.

A recent government decision to make a large number of building standards freely available to the industry has been seen as a positive sign that a construction sector accord is having a positive effect.

The accord between government and the building industry was signed in April, following the collapse of a number of leading construction firms.

Registered Master Builders Association chief executive David Kelly said the pipeline of infrastructure work being mapped out by the government is a move in the right direction.

However, he said the procurement process, which had been criticised for being all about paying bottom dollar and shifting risk on to contractors, remained a serious industry concern.

“What we’ve got is is a more focused, understanding of why the industry is important to New Zealand and why all parts of it need to work together,”Kelly said.

“I think, to give government its credit, that it’s made a commitment to try and improve the procurement processes, and we’re starting to see some of the government departments, take real steps to improve it.”

Most of the people working in the area of government procurement did not have a background in construction, he said.

“You’ve got people going into procurement roles who have an IT background for instance, and it’s I think dangerous if you don’t really understand the specific way that construction works.”

He said training high level project management skills was a priority for the accord, which was yet to be addressed.

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