12 September 2012 — Sustainability skills must be embedded in the economy if Australia’s building industry wants to reach its potential in efficiency, productivity and safety, according to the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council.

Council skills and education task group chair and Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heating education manager Carolyn Hughes said Australia was one of the most urbanised nations in the world.

“Australia’s buildings and infrastructure are critical to productivity and provide safety and comfort to the entire community,” she said.

“Now is the time to make sure that these vital assets are designed, constructed, managed and maintained by a workforce that is adequately equipped to build for the future.

“There needs to be a nationally coordinated approach to ensure professional development, education and training keeps pace with increased regulatory requirements and the growing market demand for sustainable practices.”

The council wants a Council of Australian Governments-endorsed Education for Life National Action Plan which delivers:

  • A strong culture of continuing professional development to adapt to ever-changing skills needs
  • Strategies to address existing deficits in skills for sustainability
  • Lower levels of risk for investors in our buildings and cities
  • Recognition of appropriate industry-based professional standards
  • Higher levels of community understanding and trust

Facility Management Association of Australia chief executive officer Nicholas Burt said education should be lifelong and not simply at the beginning of a career.

“Industry practitioners at all levels need to continually update their skills and knowledge to meet the nation’s environmental, social and economic challenges,” he said.

“Both formal qualifications and experience play an essential role in ensuring effective built environment performance.”