News & Media

  • News

Hawkins and Unitec partnership recognised at international conference

Filed under News.

Hawkins and Unitec partnership recognised at international conference

A partnership between Hawkins and Unitec to deliver training to construction professionals has been recognised with an award at an international conference.

Hawkins has been working in partnership with Unitec to deliver its Project Excellence training programme since 2016.

Now in its third year, the programme gives Hawkins’ people the chance to learn a collaborative approach to construction project management. It includes classroom learning modules on effective communication, planning and programming, lean construction, BIM and risk management. While Unitec had previously engaged on successful government-funded programmes, this collaborative partnered model funded by Hawkins required different thinking.

Hawkins’ Executive General Manager Gary Walker says the partnership is about encouraging collaboration within the construction industry and with Unitec.

“This year we invited our subcontractors to join our people and be part of this programme. We intend to extend that invitation to our clients and design partners in future. The reason we want to collaborate in this way is that when we share our knowledge we can all work together more effectively, which benefits the entire construction industry.”

Two of the academics involved, Dr Linda Kestle and Neil Laing, wrote a paper reflecting on feedback from the Project Excellence partnership, that was presented at the 42nd Australasian Universities Building Education Association (AUBEA) conference, hosted by the School of Design and the Built Environment at Curtin University, Singapore, from September 26 to 28.

The theme of the conference was Educating Building Professionals for the Future: Innovation, Technology and Sustainability, in the Globalised Market. It looked specifically into the joint efforts between universities and industry in educating future building professionals.

The paper, Learnings from a collaborative academia-construction sector bespoke study programme – a reflective case study, received the overall Merit award for the Best Paper at the conference, out of the 90 papers that were accepted.

“It’s a credit to everyone at Hawkins and Unitec who has been involved with planning and delivering the programme,” Dr Kestle says.

Mr Walker says Hawkins has been particularly focused on investing in the training and development of its people over the last four years.

“Project Excellence is aimed at our delivery teams. It gives them an overview of the principles of lean construction and integrated project delivery. We wanted to achieve the greatest possible impact in terms of engagement and knowledge transfer, without taking our teams off-site for too long.

“We use the 70-20-10 model as our approach to learning. People get 70 percent of their knowledge on the job, 20 percent from mentoring experiences with others and 10 percent from formal education.

“We knew that we couldn’t provide the classroom experience on our own, and approached Unitec as a possible partner. We saw Unitec as an institution that could provide a practical and collaborative approach to learning. The facilitators at Unitec have done a great job at developing and delivering relevant content to our employees, while ensuring they have an engaging learning experience,” Mr Walker says.

Dr Kestle sees the partnership as a win-win.

“What’s really cool about this is that Hawkins has come to us and sees the value that we can add, and we see the value that Hawkins adds to what we deliver as well,” Dr Kestle says. “How many companies do that? How many actually reach out to tertiary institutions and say: ‘How can we work together?’”

Senior Hawkins people were asked to collaborate with Unitec academics to help deliver the Project Excellence curriculum. This approach meant that participants could discuss relevant live project examples to support each module’s theme.

“It’s been even more interesting this year with the supply chain involved,” Mr Laing says. “One subcontractor gave the rest of the room a bit of a telling off, saying they didn’t realise how lucky they were to have the opportunity to discuss their challenges in this forum – he’d certainly never had such an opportunity before. It was great to see someone recognise the value in it.

“Having a relationship with an industry partner such as Hawkins is really beneficial for academia as well as it is for Hawkins. It’s a two-way street. It’s not just us trying to teach new processes and concepts to people. We benefit as well. The relationship we have is really wonderful, and we hope there’s the opportunity to do further research with Hawkins,” Mr Laing says.

Mr Walker sees the programme as having long-term benefits for the industry as a whole.

“I think we can have a positive influence not just on our people and our business, but on the wider industry, by creating this pool of people who see the benefits of working in a collaborative way.”

Published in New Zealand Construction News, February-March 2019