VRCA members surveyed tell us the No. 1 issue keeping them up at night is the skilled labour shortage. And with good reason – the Lower Mainland’s construction industry is busy and unemployment in the construction industry is below 4 per cent, placing it near historic lows.
Record levels of housing starts and major project investment propelled construction activity to a new high in 2019. While demand for construction services is expected to peak in the latter half of 2021, it is forecast to remain well above the 2019 levels through 2029.
To meet project demand, the Lower Mainland’s construction workforce needs to increase by 7,500 skilled trades workers over the next two years. At the same time, it will lose 4,800 to retirement, bringing the total recruitment demand to nearly 12,300 workers. Based on historical trends, we can anticipate that 4,900 new workers under the age of 30 will enter the Lower Mainland industry during this period, leaving a shortfall of nearly 7,300 workers by late 2021. The shortfall is forecast to be nearly 17,500 workers by 2029.
The provincial forecast is also troubling: B.C.’s construction industry will be short 11,700 workers over the next two years and some 23,000 workers short by 2029.
Building a sustainable workforce will require the industry to increase recruitment from groups traditionally underrepresented in the current construction labour force, including women, Indigenous workers and new Canadians.
Investing in training and apprenticeships is needed to avoid potential skills shortages over the long term, however, it will not address the immediate need for skilled trades workers.
To meet the near-term demand for labour, the Lower Mainland needs people tooled up and ready to go now. As such, most near-term labour force needs will likely need to be drawn from outside the province, outside of Canada or outside the industry.
VRCA is actively helping its members attract, train and retain skilled workers through a variety of programs and services.
BuildForce Canada Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward Highlights Reports (Please note: The first time you access the BuildForce reports, you will see BuildForce Canada’s copyright policy and be asked to identify your industry group and what province you are from. You will not be prompted for this information on subsequent visits.)
BuildForce Canada – Immigration trends in the Canadian construction sector (2020)
VRCA’s Navigating the skilled labour shortage – Top 16 Resources
Construction Job Centre – In today’s candidate-short market, VRCA’s Construction Job Centre is the perfect way for employers to promote job opportunities to thousands of job seekers.