CONTENTS

THE FUTURE OF MODULAR: THE MISSING SKILLS LINK

PROF. JAMES MURRAY-PARKES, PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE MONASH UNIVERSITY, SHARES HIS INSIGHTS ON WHERE SUPPORT MECHANISMS IN THE FORM OF GOVERNMENTS COUPLED WITH INDUSTRY LEADERS, SHOULD FOCUS THEIR ENERGY.

An industry in the making: trade skills are vital to the future of modular.
An industry in the making: trade skills are vital to the future of modular.

 

In 2017, we saw two very different, but equally important, government supported tools introduced into our fledgling industry. The first was the completion of the Handbook for the Design of Modular Structures and the second was the establishment of CAMP.H at the University of Melbourne.

Whilst we might all know quite a lot already about these two initiatives, what we may not have considered is that whilst the Handbook publication by Monash University was principally written by industry based designers like myself and my team at Multiplex, the two initiatives are still largely academic based.

So, what about the bulk of our workforce? What about the workers who keep our industry growing? What are we doing to train our men and women in modular construction? Is there a trade course syllabus being introduced? These are all interesting questions from my firm’s perspective.

“So, what about the bulk of our workforce? What about the workers who keep our industry growing? What are we doing to train our men and women in modular construction? Is there  a trade course syllabus being introduced?  These are all interesting questions from  my firm’s perspective.”
Prof. James Murray-Parkes Professor of Practice, Monash University.

As a young man, I attended Granville TAFE in the western suburbs of Sydney, where I learned applied engineering as a fitter and machinist. This training has served me well over the years and hardly a day goes by that I don’t apply something from my training. I worked on the maintenance of timber milling machines, fork lifts, cranes and saw doctoring.

The metallurgical skills I picked up, coupled with the basic engineering competencies, have helped me evolve into the person I am today. My design studio is actually a full-blown testing facility and fabrication workshop in Kew, not a fancy consulting firm. I employ tradesmen, one a carpenter and the other a former jeweller who is now a qualified structural engineer. I also employ architects who are working with these gifted trades people in the lab, making models and proof testing our inventions.

As a young man, I attended Granville TAFE in the western suburbs of Sydney, where I learned applied engineering as a fitter and machinist. This training has served me well over the years and hardly a day goes by that I don’t apply something from my training. I worked on the maintenance of timber milling machines, fork lifts, cranes and saw doctoring.
Prof. James Murray-Parkes Professor of Practice, Monash University.

Should we not focus more attention on what trades are out there and what they could offer our new and exciting industry? What can our starving TAFE institutions offer and, better still, what can we offer them? Our country has traditionally produced some amazing people who have gone on to become hugely successful and they often come from trade backgrounds. We were once a proud trade-oriented nation and I firmly believe that without good skills at trade level, we will never recover a manufacturing sector. Whether it be in modular construction or other industry, we must train our workers. University is not the only piece of the puzzle; the missing link is our trade schools.■

James Murray-Parkes is the co-founder of the Modular Construction Codes Board (MCCB) based at Monash University. Professor of Practice in the Faculty of Engineering at Monash University and head of the Brookfield Multiplex Engineering Innovations Group.

James Murray-Parkes is the co-founder of the Modular Construction Codes Board (MCCB) based at Monash University. Professor of Practice in the Faculty of Engineering at Monash University and head of the Brookfield Multiplex Engineering Innovations Group.

 


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