Issue

VRCA members surveyed tell us the No. 1 issue keeping them up at night is the skilled labour shortage. And with good reason – the job vacancy rates forecast for B.C.’s construction and maintenance industry dramatically increased in the past year following funding commitments for a number of major new industrial, commercial and institutional construction projects.

Over the next decade, B.C.’s construction industry will need to recruit 62,200 workers province wide to keep pace with market demand and offset the 44,200 retirements expected from the industry, according to the 2019-2028 labour market forecast released by BuildForce Canada. The demand may be partially met by the 36,500 new entrants under the age of 30 expected to be available across the province, but that still leaves 25,700 jobs unfilled by the provincial labour supply.

One year ago, estimates pegged the number of unfilled construction jobs in B.C. at 12,000 by 2027.

Taking a near-term look, the industry will require at least 14,600 additional workers to meet peak market demand between 2019 and 2021. With 13,000 expected to retire from the industry and 11,300 new entrants, that leaves 16,300 jobs unfilled.

For the first time, BuildForce developed a forecast specific to the Lower Mainland. The construction industry will need 11,900 additional workers to meet local construction demand. When retirements are added in, construction companies in the Lower Mainland will need to recruit 19,000 workers over the next three years to maintain a balanced labour force. With 6,900 new entrants expected to be available locally, that leaves 12,100 jobs unfilled.

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.

And with the industry already contending with record low levels of unemployment and significant recruitment challenges for local skilled trades and occupations, a portion of the required increase to the labour force may need to be drawn from outside the province or outside the industry.

Status

VRCA is actively helping its members attract, train and retain skilled workers through a variety of programs and services.

Status Updates

  • Dedicated the Advocacy in Action conversation at the Jan. 16 Division meeting for all three VRCA divisions to navigating B.C.’s skilled labour shortage. Division meeting minutes to be posted shortly.
  • Published the Construction in Vancouver supplement to the Business in Vancouver newspaper. The editorial theme was recruit, train and retain a skilled workforce.

Resources

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 asked to identify your industry group and what province you are from. You will not be prompted for this information on subsequent visits.)

VRCA’s Navigating B.C.’s skilled labour shortage – Top 10 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.