The construction industry has played an important role in developing first-class infrastructure to make Hong Kong a world-renowned cosmopolitan city. However, with increasing construction volumes, rising construction costs and ageing skilled workforce in recent years, together with multiple incidents in individual large-scale projects, the construction industry has been facing enormous pressure and challenges. The Chief Executive proposes “Construction 2.0” in the Policy Address, advocating “Innovation”, “Professionalisation” and “Revitalisation” to lead the industry to make changes, capitalise on future development opportunities and scale new heights.
Origin of “Construction 2.0”
The origin of “Construction 2.0” can be traced back to the year 2000 when a series of piling irregularities in public housing estates prompted the Government to set up the Construction Industry Review Committee. The following year, the committee published a report entitled “Construct for Excellence”, in which over 100 measures were put forward to improve construction practices and performance in the industry. The report can be seen as “Construction 1.0”. As time goes by and society develops rapidly, the construction industry has also undergone significant changes in terms of project complexity, the relevant laws and regulations, human resources, the application of high technology, etc.
To cope with further changes in future, the construction industry must keep abreast of the trends and pursue self-enhancement. The Development Bureau (DEVB) will collaborate with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) to lead the industry to implement and pilot “Construction 2.0” in public projects. The three key elements of “Innovation”, “Professionalisation” and “Revitalisation” will be introduced in works contract requirements, such as requiring the digitisation of site management and the adoption of the Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology to enhance construction regulation and quality assurance. In doing so, we can demonstrate the benefits of “Construction 2.0” and set an example to the industry.
Innovative thinking and high-end technology
The Government has been taking the lead in promoting the use of innovation and technology. With effect from this year, public works projects exceeding $30 million are required to adopt the BIM technology. Construction professionals will carry out design and construction work in a virtual environment, and can significantly reduce human error in the construction process and greatly enhance construction efficiency and quality. Moreover, we have mandated the use of prefabricated steel reinforcing bar products in a number of public works projects. We believe that the promotion of automation and industrialisation in the construction process can enhance quality control and substantially improve site safety.
The Government is also piloting the use of the Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) method in public projects. The Disciplined Services Quarters for the Fire Services Department at Pak Shing Kok in Tseung Kwan O, which commenced construction in late September, is the first works project to adopt the MiC method in Hong Kong. This shows not only the innovative spirit of the Government and the industry, but also, more importantly, our expectations that the new construction method will enhance productivity, shorten the time for completion and thereby enhancing cost-effectiveness.
Fund to promote the use of innovation and technology
Needless to say, promotion of the use of innovation cannot solely rely on the Government, and it is also crucial to have the active participation of the industry. Early this month, I attended the Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF) Launching Ceremony. With the signing of the Memorandum of Co-operation by the DEVB and the CIC, the $1 billion fund was officially launched for application.
We have noted that the industry hopes to have the application and approval procedures simplified and expedited as far as possible. Therefore, we have built up a pre-approved list for that purpose. Meanwhile, to cater for the needs of the industry, especially those of the small and medium enterprises, the CITF will have a maximum funding ratio of 70%. For the use of local research and development products, the maximum funding ratio will go up to 75%. The CITF will also support construction technology training and study tours for practitioners and local students of relevant disciplines.
Strengthening the training of construction talent
On professionalisation, the DEVB is now providing training courses for 3 000 government professionals to strengthen their project leadership and management skills. In addition, the Policy Address proposes the establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Major Project Leaders to equip major project leaders with strategic, innovative minds and world-class leadership skills in the delivery of public works projects.
Furthermore, the Hong Kong Institute of Construction (HKIC) established by the CIC was officially opened on 3 October. It offers diploma programmes recognised under the Qualifications Framework and provides a progression ladder for practitioners, with a view to further enhancing the professional standards and image of the industry. This will also help attract young people to join the industry and maintain a construction workforce of sufficient strength and quality to meet the industry’s manpower demand in future.
At the opening ceremony of the HKIC, I had the pleasure to listen to construction students and graduates who shared their learning and work experiences. I was deeply touched by their enthusiasm, sense of belonging to the industry, as well as the close bonds between masters and apprentices. I hope more young people will join the industry, upgrade their skills and enhance their workmanship through training, and shine in the construction industry.
21 October, 2018Back