More than half of the companies (54%) using Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in Ireland don’t believe the right skills are currently available, that’s according to new research launched today.
The report, ‘Modern Methods of Construction: Defining MMC Business,’ was launched by the Construction Professionals Skillnet and researched and delivered by Quality Positive.
MMC is an umbrella term for different types of construction which involves significant portions, or all, of the building being manufactured in a factory setting and joined together on-site. It encompasses modern construction technology and methodologies that improve productivity, particularly off-site construction. MMC is important as it can significantly reduce the time required to complete a construction project and also improve safety and reduce waste, which is regarded as vital in meeting the ambitious Government targets in Project 2040 and Housing for All.
While a relatively new way of doing construction, it is increasing in importance globally. In Ireland there are over 100 companies involved in MMC, but tellingly only 27 currently provide complete housing solutions to the Irish construction sector.
Speaking about the report, PJ Rudden, Chair of the Construction Sector Group said: “Modern methods of construction are vital for the growth of the construction industry and the development of the economy. As we face increasing pressures across the country to scale up the levels of construction activity, utilising MMC will be an essential component in the advancement of building activity. We need to create an environment that nurtures and promotes MMC and that is why the findings of this report are so important.”
His remarks were echoed by Tom Parlon, Director General of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF): “As well as reducing delivery time, there are many additional benefits to MMC including improved safety and waste reduction. The CIF, through the Construction Professionals Skillnet, is looking forward to working with the construction off-site manufacturers, policy makers and education and training providers to develop relevant solutions which will enhance the sectors ability to meet the Government’s ambitious targets, as well as the broader commercial requirements of our economy.”
Paul Healy, Chief Executive at Skillnet Ireland, said: “Skillnet Ireland is working with the Construction Professionals Skillnet to help build Ireland’s MMC capability and support the delivery of both the National Development Plan and Housing for All strategy. Today’s report will enable the construction industry to develop talent frameworks and new upskilling programmes to build sustainable businesses that enable innovation and the adoption of new technologies.
According to the report, the key barrier to the adoption of MMC in Ireland is the availability of skills and knowledge. Of those surveyed, 70% believed that MMC understanding was critical to the sector, followed by just over 60% saying collaboration skills are essential. There is currently little or no provision in the training and education sector in the area of MMC.
The report concludes with recommendations for both those involved in MMC and education and training providers to address the skills challenges of using MMC. These include, for the sector:
- Promoting a culture of innovation, MMC technology understanding and mentoring.
- Creating a MMC professional development path and MMC skills matrix.
- Identifying the core MMC skill set with details on competencies required.
- Identify the most appropriate broad solutions for the competencies identified.
- Working with education and training providers on the development of appropriate provision at all levels.
- Promoting MMC to career guidance counsellors throughout the education system and to 3rd level students during career fairs.
Key to ensuring relevant and properly resourced training and education provision is a cohesive industry grouping that has clarity in what its needs are and that is prepared to assist in the development of the solutions. It is also recommended that education and training providers work with those in the sector to generate relevant solutions for the upskilling necessary.
As the competencies required are a mixture of those found in construction, manufacturing and supply chain management, another recommendation is those departments are involved and collaborate with the MMC Working Group to generate the necessary solutions.