Brian Welch

29 July 2013 — Conference: The building industry needs a fusion of both hard and soft skills,  Master Builders Association of Victoria executive director Brian Welch told the BIM-MEPAUS Construction Innovation forum in Melbourne last week.

Mr Welch, who said he was “rapidly approaching the feather duster stage” because he will bow out from the MBA next month, said BIM would be a revolution for the industry.

“When you look at this funny thing called productivity in the building industry, people look at it through technological development, but nothing can be as profound as what we have seen today,” he said.

“It is going to be a revolution for our industry and it is going to be a revolution that some will choose to move faster than others.

“But I don’t believe it is a revolution that is BIM alone – that would be silly.”

Mr Welch said the message of the conference, the mantra, was that “BIM is beautiful”.

“It is,” he said. “But is it the sole solution to productivity in our industry as we go forward? I don’t think so.”

And while congratulating the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors’ Association of Australia on its role with BIM, Mr Welch said it could not continue alone.

“This is not about anyone’s fiefdom… if we are talking about the future, it will be a more collaborative future.

“I know general contractors pretty well, I know specialist contractors pretty well, and [some]  think they’ve got their piece of private wisdom in their back pockets on how to do it. They don’t.

“Building is not that scientific, the things that make the difference can be a bit of technology but certainly the team.

“A lot of has been made of presentations today about the efficiencies that can be driven, how you can make a huge difference to productivity, but sadly folks, it still relies on people.

“BIM is not the solution by itself.”

Mr Welch said the building industry was a “bunch of poor communicators in the same place who manage to bully, cajole, thrash, push, argue… punch occasionally… in the execution of their duties”.

With this in mind the MBA had invested $40 million in a building leadership simulation centre, a mixture of “technology and actors”, to give leaders the skills of empathy, how to work with others and how to listen, he said.

“Then, golly, you actually get a better outcome.

“A fusion of soft skills and hard skills. It will be a change of paradigm for our industry.”

Mr Welch also said it was time government, contractors and investors joined each other “around the table” to talk about “something that will be very good for our industry”.

“Hopefully I am opening your minds to possibilities,” he said.

“There is BIM, there is the BLSC, and there will also be an alphabet soup of possibilities for the future.

“[So] get you head around the future – you’re going to have to make it.”