Duncan Gibb writes about why he accepted the role of President of the Australian Constructors Association (ACA).

I have spent my career figuring out ways to be a resource to help others. In many ways that is what working in the construction industry does—it has a lasting positive impact on the lives of people.

As a civil engineer, I have always been impressed and proud to see the impact of the work we do to connect communities, keep them safe and sheltered in new and improved infrastructure or to rebuild communities devastated by earthquakes, floods or fires.

Now, as I approach the tail end of my career, it is my turn to help the industry that has supported me for the better part of 40 years. That is why I accepted the role of President of the Australian Constructors Association.

Construction is everyone’s business

The future of the construction industry is the responsibility of the people that are the industry. It is one of the nation’s largest industries, making a significant contribution to the economy and employing 1 in 10 people. But it faces some hefty challenges and the last couple of years have shown the stark consequences of inaction.

The current narrative of labour and material shortages, cost overruns and insolvencies is the story viewed from the outside looking in. From within, the flame still burns for the love of construction, but our greatest asset—our people—are in danger of burning out. The culture of our industry needs to change, and it can only do this if we are bold enough to drive reform.

Picking up the pace

I am an optimist, so I believe it is possible to make change happen—even in one of the oldest industries known to man. But I won’t accept the notion that change is slow, our response to the pandemic has shown this. It is time to pick up the reform baton and run the relay like never before.

We need to work together, government and industry. State-based reform is a good start, and we have seen positive progress from government and industry collaborations like the Construction Industry Leadership Forum and Construction Industry Culture Taskforce. However, widespread adoption is needed for us to truly sprint to the finish line and the Federal Government is best placed to coordinate and incentivise reform.

Inviting more to the table

Having served as a Director on the Australian Constructors Association Board since 2017, I have seen the appetite for change grow as more have come to the table. I see an industry that understands the solutions and is ready to implement them. I see an industry that understands that it is no longer acceptable to just keep doing things the way we always have. Those who drag their feet are now the exception, rather than the rule.

Legacy of a sustainable construction industry

With record investment in infrastructure, now is our opportunity to improve productivity, innovation and industry sustainability. Now is our opportunity to tell a more positive story and to leave a legacy that sees future generations seek out the construction industry as an employer of choice.

Here’s to empowering our people and intentionally creating large scale change with them!

(As published online at Inside Construction)