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Hong Kong launches Construction 2.0

21 January 2019

The Hong Kong government is upgrading its £30 billion a year construction industry. Lam Sai-hung of the Development Bureau says Construction 2.0 will focus on innovation, professionalisation and revitalisation.

Hong Kong launches Construction 2.0
View of Hong Kong skyline. Image credit: Ryan McManimie/Unsplash

As one of the world’s leading cities, Hong Kong relies on a remarkably complex but effective infrastructure system delivered and maintained by its construction industry.

But despite many outstanding achievements, the industry is facing a challenging future and urgently needs a strategy to carry it forward.

In the next few years, Hong Kong’s annual construction output will increase to over HK$300 billion (£30 billion).

While this growing pipeline is encouraging, it’s raised questions about the capabilities and resources of the construction industry in its current form.

Costs are high, the workforce is ageing and productivity is declining; there’s also a lag in innovation and adoption of new technology.

Furthermore, the industry has witnessed a series of incidents related on a number of mega-projects in recent years, including budget overruns, delays, site accidents and alleged quality and site- supervision problems.

All these have led to heightened levels of media scrutiny, impaired public confidence and shortage of new recruits.

Driving innovation

In view of the challenges, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region launched Construction 2.0 - Time to change in September 2018 (Development Bureau, 2018).

The initiative rests on three key pillars: innovation, professionalisation and revitalisation.

Innovation is the key to improving capability and enhancing performance. The global economy is experiencing a huge and lasting impact from technological advances and innovation. An industry culture that embraces change, innovation and new technology is necessary to drive forward productivity, efficiency and enhanced project delivery outcomes.

A series of actions is being implemented in Hong Kong, including establishment of a Construction Innovation and Technology Application Centre and a Construction Innovation and Technology Fund.

In addition, building information modelling (BIM) is being mandated in all major capital works projects and off-site construction, such as modular integrated construction (Pan et al., 2018), is being encouraged.

Improving professionalism

Improving professionalism is another essential element for enhancing performance. The government is implementing a structured project management training programme, as well as setting up a Centre of Excellence for Major Project Leaders to equip government construction professionals with contemporary project leadership and management capabilities.

Other actions include enhancing the professionalism of subcontractors and enhancing professional skills within the workforce. For continual learning from the global construction industry, the government is also exploring collaboration with international counterparts such ICE in the UK.

In this regard the government has already adopted ICE’s suite of NEC contracts as its default procurement mechanism for public-sector works and maintenance projects.

Promoting revitalisation

To attract and nurture young talent, it’s crucial to reinvigorate the appeal and benefits of joining the construction industry, providing an appealing career proposition while offering a safe, clean and supportive environment that fosters continuous learning, development and knowledge-sharing within the workforce.

The government is also promoting system re-engineering and encouraging a broader and more commercial mindset, with a view to enhancing agility and sustainability at the individual, organisational and industry levels.

In summary, Construction 2.0 outlines the government’s vision for the upgrading the construction industry and provides a roadmap for its future. The publication is also intended to stimulate discussions within the industry and garner feedback. It will be piloted on selected upcoming public works projects.

  • Lam Sai-hung, Permanent Secretary for Development (Works), Hong Kong government