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 released its Immigration trends in the Canadian construction sector (2020) report, looking at changing trends in immigration and government policy, the challenges facing the construction sector, and opportunities for change.
- VRCA president Fiona Famulak hosted a hosted a panel discussion at the Three Divisions meeting, taking a deep dive into the construction industry’s future labour needs, the barriers that exist today and the opportunities that companies have to bridge the gap.
- BuildForce Canada issued a mid-year update of its 2020-2029 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward report. Entitled Construction and Maintenance: Looking beyond COVID-19, the report provides a revised investment and labour market outlook for the industry through 2022.
- VRCA updated and expanded its list of resources for navigating the skilled labour shortage. The list of top resources has grown from 10 to 16 and is organized around the recruitment life cycle of: Understand the Market, Attract, Train and Retain. Explore the updated Labour Market Resources page.
- VRCA called on the provincial and federal governments to help address the ongoing shortage of skilled labour in British Columbia and the Lower Mainland. Read more.
- On Feb. 6, BuildForce Canada released its 2020-2029 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast for B.C., which suggests if nothing changes, the Lower Mainland’s construction industry will be short 7,300 workers over the next two years and some 17,500 workers by 2029. Links to the annual labour market information forecasts are available in Resources below.
- At the combined meeting of VRCA’s three Divisions on Jan. 22, BuildForce Canada provided members with a preview of its 2020-2029 labour market forecast for the British Columbia and Lower Mainland construction industries. Download the presentation materials.
- 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.
- Published the Construction in Vancouver supplement to the Business in Vancouver newspaper. The editorial theme was recruit, train and retain a skilled workforce.
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.)
- Previous national and provincial summaries, starting with the 2015-2024 reports, are available by clicking on the various tabs listed on the the Construction and Maintenance Forward Highlights page.
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.