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Why construction needs lifelong personal development to thrive. Q&A with John Savage, Sysmax Knowledge Partner

Why construction needs lifelong personal development to thrive. Q&A with John Savage, Sysmax Knowledge Partner

13th Jul 2021

We caught up with Sysmax Knowledge Partner John Savage on how an approach to personal development and lifelong learning can help the construction sector by building a talent pipeline.

Sysmax is a company that's committed to personal development. We're proud to be able to help people clearly communicate their competencies, and keep learning throughout their careers. And it means that we know our company can itself benefit from other people's expertise. That's why we work with Sysmax Knowledge Partners, experts in their field who know the importance of keeping up to date with what's happening on the ground. In this blog, we catch up with John Savage, one of our knowledge partners, about the importance of personal development in the construction sector.

Commitment to personal development makes construction companies more future fit

With a background in civil engineering, John now works as a consultant with higher education institutions. Ultimately, he's working to improve colleges' ability to provide a talent pipeline into the construction sector and beyond. We sat down with him and asked to get his perspective on what's happening in the construction sector right now.

Q: What are the main challenges for human resources in construction?

A: With increasingly flexible working patterns, and more transient career paths, it's important for individuals to be able to prove their competency. The responsibility is often for individuals to make sure they have the skills that companies need, as much as companies being responsible to train individuals. But on the flipside, most companies don’t know how good their people are, as many don't conduct regular skills audits. And in any case, that's increasingly difficult to do if your workforce consists largely of contractors.

Q: What are the major trends in the sector?

A: The construction sector is already changing in so many ways. With the development of more 'manufactured' construction, buildings nowadays effectively must be built in the digital world first before a spade goes into the ground.

It's important to get competency and compliance right upstream, to think about the digital team who are designing a building. As for the people who actually put the building up, logistics and people management are the crucial skillsets for construction companies to have on board.

Q: How can construction companies build a talent pipeline?

A: University may provide a focus on the science, tech, and engineering (STEM) skills that the construction sector needs. But academic education is often about students working towards a pass mark, rather than demonstrating what employers need. Ultimately, people often spend their time trying to prove they’re good, rather than simply being good. And academic education is also not always suited to developing skills around workplace interaction and communication. That's often been undervalued by the construction sector itself.

Given the number of non-traditional routes into the sector, it's important for people to balance what they learn at university with on-the-job training and to keep learning throughout their careers. The problem is that construction is very siloed – once you're on a particular career path, it's difficult to switch job functions. A better approach would be to focus on what opportunities there are for people with particular skill sets, especially when it comes to ‘softer’ skills.

Q: How would you sum up how Sysmax can help in the construction sector?

A: This is where Sysmax can help individuals, as well as their employers, by allowing individuals to maintain a skill profile that they can demonstrate to new employers. By enabling people to be judged not by what their degree is in, but what skills they actually have, it can help to unlock potential. Sysmax works to focus on the mechanics of a job role rather than its title. For the construction sector, this is particularly important. With Sysmax, people are judged on talent, not on their characteristics. As soon as you're operating with innovation, you need people with the right mindset. In many ways, it's less about what you’ve achieved so far but about how you think, or how you react in certain circumstances. People need to be able to demonstrate that they're both doing things right and doing the right thing. Sysmax helps to meet that challenge in a volatile world.

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To find out more about Sysmax products and how we can help professionals in the construction sector with personal development, contact one of the team today.

Post by Peter McAteer

Peter is the founder and CEO of Sysmax, a market-leader in the areas of compliance, performance improvement and competency management. He has more than 35 years’ experience working with global leaders in high-risk industries such and oil and gas extraction. Peter’s focus is on driving performance improvement though analysis of business compliance and staff competency, including risk analysis, high technology engineering and value optimisation. He works with clients to ensure they make the most of the opportunities inherent with the Sysmax suite of products.