Approaches from various times in combination

Belarus is now training project managers for the construction sphere, aiming to apply international standards across the construction industry
By Vasily Khmelevsky

“The new speciality will become vital to the success of various investment projects, since these need qualified project managers,” asserts the Deputy Minister for Architecture and Construction, Dmitry Semenkevich. Belstroytsentr enterprise is working with the Belarusian National Technical University’s Institute of Further Training to produce our future experts, who are needed to ensure accurate planning and reasonable management. The matter came under discussion at a Republican meeting regarding the construction industry and improving the work of managerial personnel, held in December 2013, and attended by the Head of State.

The Deputy Minister does not doubt that those trained in the new speciality will find employment, since legislation being launched in 2015 requires all construction work in Belarus to submit predesign documentation, including substantiation of investments and a management plan: all will fall under the responsibility of project managers. Mr. Semenkevich explains that the job has developed over the years, and is no longer that of an intermediary between those paying and those building. He emphasises, “Now, project managers are responsible for optimising processes of construction, including saving money.” The Ministry for Construction and Architecture expects that project management will emulate that seen in the West: companies managing and investing in construction projects, providing a full service from start to finish.

In addition to the course being run by the BNTU’s Institute of Further Training, other institutions of higher education countrywide are to launch a similar syllabus, training specialists for the construction industry. The Ministry for Construction and Architecture and the Ministry for Education are selecting particular institutions of higher education for the purpose.

Mr. Semenkevich explains, “Our main task is to choose experts from here in Belarus, and from abroad, to train tomorrow’s professionals. We also need the necessary methodical and educational literature.” The aim is to train enough experts to carry through new legislation, which launches from the beginning of 2015, allowing only certified experts, including project managers, to work in the construction industry of Belarus.

Ivan Neverovich, the Dean of the Construction and Real Estate Department of the BNTU’s Institute of Further Training, tells us that 35 people have begun training for the new speciality. Over 18 months of correspondence courses, they will have three practical training sessions, as well as examinations. Moreover, they must defend their diploma thesis. Comparing the project manager course with that for construction superintendents, chief engineers, chief architects and other such construction experts, Mr. Neverovich notes that projects managers are trained in specific disciplines. These include management of risks, and resources — including human resources.

According to the Director of the International Association of Project Management, Dmitry Lukyanov, one of the experts helping develop the new training course, there were a great many applicants for their first study group. He tells us, “After selection, we have a very strong group, including heads of state and private enterprises. Some are representatives of customer services, while others are representatives of engineering, construction and design companies. The training programme for project managers allows Belarusian experts to combine the ‘Soviet’ school of construction with wider international approaches.”

The course includes a study ISO 21500 certification (International Organisation on Standardisation) — which contains more than 40 years of practice from project managers globally, including those from post-Soviet territories. It looks at methods of project management, aiming to ensure quality control in construction, with work delivered on time and within initial budget.
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