17 Oct 2011

Govt urged to take stronger role in construction industry

7:35 am on 17 October 2011

The Government is being urged to take a stronger role in the construction industry to help it avoid a boom and bust cycle in the future.

A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Construction Strategy Group says the building and construction industry has the potential to lift the economy and boost employment.

Construction is the country's fifth largest sector, employing more than 157,000 people.

The Construction Strategy Group was formed last year to look at ways of growing the industry.

But there's a warning that potential boom times ahead with the Christchurch rebuild, leaky home repairs and new housing could be followed by a huge bust.

Construction Strategy Group member Peter Gomm says by creating consistent demand in the building industry the Government could enable more workers to have a career and ensure better quality construction.

He says the Government could step in with public projects in areas like health, education and law and order.

Mr Gomm says by waiting until the sector is in a downturn to initiate building projects the Government would also get better value for money.

He says the industry needs to know when to gear up to meet an increase in demand as the Christchurch rebuild gets underway.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers' report found the building and construction sector is valued at 8% of the economy, but only generates 4% of national Gross Domestic Product.

Mr Gomm says to change that ratio an increase in skills is needed to improve earnings and productivity.

He says that will be assisted by longer term planning, so the industry can invest in training and in more modular type construction.