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InfraTrain - Research Into The Drivers Of Productivity

The infrastructure ITO InfraTrain has engaged the New Zealand Centre for Advanced Engineering (CAENZ) to investigate the drivers of productivity within the civil infrastructure industry. Commissioning this research stemmed from a Government requirement to lift workplace productivity and value for money across the board.

The project was designed to examine what drives or holds back productivity in individual companies, particularly in small to medium sized ones (SMEs). The effect of existing training on productivity was also explored. The project began in April 2009 and is due to finish at the end of 2011.

In the first stage of the project CAENZ interviewed a range of people from a cross section of infrastructure companies for their views on what productivity actually means.

The following five key themes emerged from these interviews:

• A shift in focus towards increasing management skills would be desirable.

• The unpredictable nature of employment continuity creates difficulties in attracting quality employees.

• Delivery is determined by physical working conditions, accessibility of materials and availability of a quality workforce.

• An effective structured approach is needed in project management as SMEs have unique requirements.

• Good supply chain management is fundamental as SMEs have minimum control over other parties.

These findings on the drivers of productivity were presented at industry workshops in early 2010, where systems analysis was used to test these views.

Further analysis on the relationships between these key factors is currently being undertaken. This research will be used to develop a best practice model for productivity within civil infrastructure SMEs. This model will then be disseminated through the industry and other ITOs.

The final stage of the project will be to develop a strategy for improving productivity in the infrastructure industry and produce the tools, programmes and training provision to achieve this.