Solving the construction sector’s skill shortage with gaming?


Future business people and construction workers can get a taste of what it’s like to build their own company with the launch of Construction Tycoon, the latest in a series of educational games aimed at growing interest in industries with skills shortages

Created by Joy Business Academy, the Tycoon series has the backing of partners including Microsoft, Xero, Ministry of Social Development, Fletcher Building, BDO and Building Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO).

Construction Tycoon immerses players in the construction business. They can create their own company, build a property portfolio and put together a team strong on logistics, worksite safety, and money management – while trying to keep afloat.

Construction Tycoon is the first of this type of game to include real-world support within the construction industry. Support from partners includes the Xero login system, BCITO’s work-ready portal, Ministry of Social Development’s services, BDO’s services and BNZ loans.

There are real-world scenarios to show what goes on in business, and the game also highlights the skills needed.

Joy Business Academy founder James Coddington says, “The construction industry needs innovation, efficiency and talent. Construction Tycoon will help develop this. That’s why all the key industry players, Ministry for Social Development and others have come together to develop the game.”

Minister for Social Development Hon Carmel Sepuloni says these smart, innovative games can help people looking to get into a new industry.

“The Games have been designed around 10 core employability skills required for jobs in 2020, as identified by the World Economic Forum. The game ticks so many boxes. Small Businesses are learning about how MSD can help them hire staff, clients use it to learn about industries they want to work in, and it’s being used as a successful teaching tool in schools.

Minister for Employment Hon Willie Jackson says the Government is committed to supporting the construction sector. One of the challenges the sector, which includes hundreds of small businesses, faces is getting the right people into work.

“Playing this game is a good way for businesspeople to learn about how the Ministry of Social Development can support them in finding, training and keeping good workers.

“We’re partnering with the industry to provide different, exciting tools to help businesses and their employees thrive.”

Gamified learning has proven to be a powerful tool with high student engagement and outcomes compared to traditional education. One University of Auckland study found students learnt as much in a one five-minute gamified session as they did in 25 minutes in a traditional classroom situation.

Gamified learners also have better knowledge retention, as a Joy Business Academy client found: By gamifying its induction programme in the tourism industry, learners retained 98 percent of new information when tested a month later compared to just 31 percent retention in the traditional face-to-face induction programme.

Mr Coddington says, “Gamified learning also reduces risk for SME owners who can test and experience real-life exercises without a cost output. From a business viability standpoint, research shows new businesses that have proper budgets, goals, advisors and technology are 27 percent more profitable than those without.”

The Tycoon Series launched as an industry partnership in July 2018 and had over 18,000 downloads and 100,000 players in the first six months. The game has been downloaded and used by SMEs (72 percent), educational institutions such as schools, universities and ITOs (15 percent) and partners (13 percent). The Tycoon games have been designed around the 10 core employability skills required for jobs in 2020, as identified by the World Economic Forum.

About the Construction Tycoon

The purpose of the game is to not only have fun making as much money as you can but also to immerse yourself in the process of creating your own Construction Company with emphasis on building a team with strong controls on logistics, worksite safety, and financial management, while at the same time building your property portfolio while trying to stay solvent.

In the game you will participate in competitive tenders which need to be managed carefully against your build cost. You will need to manage your labour, materials and the many different challenges that will be thrown at you. Each build step you will require different materials and labour to complete each phase and you will receive more money at each of these steps to keep you going. While building your properties you will also be able to buy new houses at auctions that will boost your overall value as a company but be careful as you don’t want to over commit yourself and run out of money.

The game will run for 100 in-game days, and after that the game comes to a halt. Your property builds and partial builds along with your property portfolio are tallied up and you are given a score of how well you did. 

Team Management

Grow and manage a complex and growing group of contractors and workers on your team. Each worker has differing skill levels and specialized skills. Ensure you have the right workers on the site to complete the necessary build steps.

Utilize the myBCITO’s work-ready portal system to find specialized workers with perks. Recruit Hire MSD clients and receive subsidy for those eligible by providing sustainable employment, educational and up-skilling opportunities.

Logistics and Worksite Management

Sort out the required materials for each step in the build process. Make sure the right materials are going to turn up to the worksite at the right time so your crew can perform the job.  Deal with unexpected complications like traffic congestion (deliveries getting delayed), weather slowing down construction jobs.

Deal with onsite issues that require your intervention to stop the project from coming to a complete halt. Problems on the worksite can arise – such as cutting and damaging a fibre cable, neighbours lodging a noise complaint, council consent problems, these require the player to visit the site and resolve.

Competitive Bidding for Tenders

You place a bid against an in-game competitor to try and secure a tender for a house. You can bid to secure a tender at a really low cost, win the tender and complete the build at a loss to your business. Conversely you can bid too high and lose the bid to a competitor. The player needs to strike a balance between the construction cost and the competitive nature of tenders.

Enlist Safety Protocol on the Building Site

The player can add a series of safety measures to a worksite. For each subsequent measure they add less worktime they will get from a worker per day (i.e. a worker has an 8-hour workday, the player opts to have health and safety meetings in the morning – the worker now has 7 hours and 30-minute days) – the first 30 minutes does not go toward construction time.

Build and Grow Your Warehouse

Expand your warehouse to hold more supplies (this is a dispatch point for materials). Upgrade the warehouse size, delivery speed, security. But manage your cashflow at the same time.

Deal with a Multitude of Scripted In-Game Events

Traffic delays, high levels of crime, supply shortages – the player needs to adapt & prepare for these challenges.

Discover Real World Equivalence

Many of the features within the game (especially with partners) marry up to real-world equivalents. i.e. Xero login system, BCITO work-ready portal, MSD services, BDO’s services, BNZ loans.  Players can learn more about these through the ‘real world application’ panel within the game.