Research

Importance of communication and team play increases at construction sites

Rakennustyömaa
It is not enough that new buildings are of good quality. Construction site staff’s good working life skills promote high-quality building.

The number of subcontractors at construction sites has changed job descriptions and thus more information is needed on construction site staff’s lacking working life skills. The building trade now wants to invest in good and high-quality building at employee and superior levels.

 

Tampere University’s, Tampere University of Applied Sciences’ and TTS’ RAKAS research project on development of attitudes, cooperation skills and working life abilities in building trade speeds up the matter. The focus is on construction site superiors’ and employees’ working life skills or lack of them.

“The importance of communication and team play is increasing as subcontracting and chaining become more common at construction sites. Superiors must have good skills in communication, information transmission, change management and anticipation,” tell Senior Lecturer Katja Finnilä from Tampere University of Applied Sciences’ School of Built Environment and Bioeconomy and Professor Arto Saari from Tampere University’s research group on Construction Management and Economics.

Tampere University is developing an indicator for measuring construction site staff’s working life abilities and completing mappings on six construction sites together with TTS. Tampere University of Applied Sciences is mapping course contents and teaching methods.

Working life skills under the microscope at construction sites – a form developed for measurement of metaskills

The starting point of the project was the Raksavirtaa project, which ended a year ago. It showed that more cooperation skills are needed between subcontractors, their employees and superiors.

“We noticed that employees and superiors lacked metaskills or working life skills,” Saari tells.

In the RAKAS project, more attention is paid on employees’ self-direction skills as they affect responsibility for personal and others’ work. Employees’ problem solving skills and ability to see the big picture are emphasised at construction sites.

According to Saari, they first searched for ready indicators for employees’ and superiors’ metaskills. There were not found even if there is huge need for ones.

“As there was no ready indicator, we developed one at Tampere University using other fields’ existing research information on working life skills. It is a new field.”

Education provision has to respond to working life needs

Tampere University of Applied Sciences, TTS and Tampere University assess how education provision responds to working life skills at six construction sites. TAMK maps the educational contents and methods as well as potential gaps in teaching methods or practices.

Chaining of contracts at construction sites is an important factor considered in the project. A related viewpoint is whether there are many nationalities at construction sites. In these cases, superiors may have communication challenges in finding a common language and information transmission.

“Building materials and thermal insulation needs may differ in different cultures but competence and attitude determine good construction, no matter the nationality or cultural background,” Finnilä states.

“Now we have established what metaskills are and developed a related indicator. A framework has also been made for assessment of teaching. Next we will establish working life needs and gaps as well as development needs of education provision. We can include these skills in basic education and particularly in continuing education. TTS educates employees and superiors. We at TAMK offer construction site management education and continuing education,” Finnilä tells.

According to Finnilä, both superiors and employees should be team players to ensure better communication, responsibility, professional pride and occupational safety.

 

Further information

Senior Lecturer Katja Finnilä, School of Built Environment and Bioeconomy, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, katja.finnila [at] tuni.fi ()

Professor Arto Saari, Research group on Construction Management and Economics, Faculty of Built Environment, Tampere University, arto.saari [at] tuni.fi ()

Research Manager Minna Kuusela (project coordinator), TTS, minna.kuusela [at] tts.fi ()

The RAKAS project will be implemented in cooperation between TTS, Tampere University and Tampere University of Applied Sciences in 2020-2022. The project is funded by the European Social Fund.

 

Text: Arja Lundan

Photo: Saara Lehtonen

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