University of Auckland: Construction skills shortage solution for DHBs

Auckland DHB, Waitematā DHB and Counties Manukau Health have joined forces with the faculty to develop a master’s programme designed to meet a health project management shortage.

The Master of Engineering Project Management endorsed in Health (MEPM – Health) is an extension of the University’s existing Master of Engineering Project Management and incorporates courses from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences on health system organisation and leadership.

“Strong project management skills specific to the health sector are critical to our ability to deliver the health facilities needed by the region over the next 15 years,” says Mark Harris, Manager Regional Capital Programme, Northern Regional Alliance.

“While DHBs are committed to delivering their capital investment programmes, the lack of experienced project managers could make it harder to provide the facilities and infrastructure needed so health services can continue to meet the growing needs of our population,” he adds.

There is a national shortage of construction project managers across various industries. Factors contributing to this include a lack of training in specialist areas, such as health project management, and Covid-19 border restrictions which have meant skilled project managers aren’t coming from overseas.

The MEPM-H will give graduates with at least two years relevant work experience access into specialist health-related infrastructure project management.

Supporting the MEPM-H programme is the Centre of Excellence – Health Infrastructure (CEHI) – an innovative internship programme initiated by Auckland DHB and designed to enable students to study part time while working for the DHBs’ infrastructure and facilities teams and taking part in construction related research projects. There will be four fully paid scholarships offered by the DHBs.

“CEHI aims to provide students with a well-rounded work experience in health infrastructure – one where they are supported, nurtured and challenged and able to use their health project management studies in a live environment,” says Allan Johns, Director of Facilities & Development at Auckland DHB.

“We want to see these students thrive and ultimately pursue careers in an industry that ticks all the buttons when it comes to job satisfaction and making a difference,”

Lead developer of the MEPM-H is Dr Garry Miller, Director of the Graduate School of Engineering.

He explains: “The request from Auckland DHB for a specific project management programme was an opportunity for the university to focus on a real need identified within the health sector.

“Development of New Zealand’s infrastructure is a huge challenge which needs a team approach of organisations working in partnership. With the huge capital spend planned for health over the next two decades, this is an important sector where we can play our part.”