Building and construction is one of Australia’s biggest industries, employing skilled workers everywhere from mining sites to residential developments. Traditionally, people have entered the industry via apprenticeships or labouring roles and ‘worked their way up’ to supervisory roles over the years. But with regulatory changes and fast moving technological advances in the field, more and more employers are recognising the benefits of further qualifications, especially when it comes to site supervisors and project managers.
Matthew Maud was already working in construction when he undertook a Diploma of Building and Construction at Swinburne University of Technology. It was a tough decision, knowing he’d be testing his time management skills as he juggled the demands of study with the long work hours onsite. But now, with the Diploma successfully completed, he encourages his colleagues to follow the same path. Having the Diploma looks great on his resume, he says, and distinguishes him from other workers onsite. It not only gives him the edge when it comes to future employability, but improves his day to day job satisfaction in his current role.
Industry relevant, on the job training
Matthew already had years of experience in construction when he decided he wanted more from his career. A qualification can mean the difference between working in general support roles or taking on the extra challenges – and income – of a site supervisor or project management position. Matthew was already overseeing a team when he returned to study, but his Diploma helped boost his credibility onsite. Through study, he was able to add value to his role, bringing new ideas to the table with a better understanding of the wider industry and specialist aspects of the job, such as the latest OHS reforms.
As an industry insider, Matthew says a Diploma gives you a better looking resume – an automatic advantage over others looking for work in a competitive job market. It also opens up opportunities to work interstate or get registered as a builder, although in Matthew’s case it was simply to get ahead in an industry he already knew he loved. “We came to class to refine our skills and learn new ways of operating at a higher level than we had been”, he says. Matthew’s lecturers worked with his managers to ensure the course provided theory that was relevant to his work onsite.
Specialist skills and knowledge
Matthew was surprised to discover that completing a Diploma these days is not like studying in a traditional school environment. “They really knew the culture of the construction industry and how we work, and structured the program around that,” he remarks. Students are able to negotiate different assessment timelines to fit in with work commitments and can complete some of the course online. Of course, dedication and organisation are still essential, but teaching takes place both in class and onsite, with a number of assessments linked directly with tasks that occur on the job. Matthew says that the teaching staff’s site visits “really supported us in our learning, but also kept us motivated and wanting to show them our skills”.
Building and construction graduates find employment as supervisors, estimators and in contract administration. The Diploma course Matthew completed also meets requirements by the Building Commission for builder registration and provides the specialist skills and knowledge required to run a construction business.
Matthew not only successfully completed his diploma, but went on to win Trainee of the Year at the Victorian Training Awards. “The idea of going back to study was quite daunting” he says, but getting his qualification, stretching his skills and knowledge and being recognised for his achievements has been “a most rewarding time” in his career.