BC workforce poised for growth

B.C.’s Construction Workforce Poised For Growth

Up to 17,000 new workers could be hired in British Columbia’s construction industry over the next five years, according to a new forecast by BuildForce Canada.

Their latest predictions indicate that proposed transportation, pipeline, LNG, and mining projects will be the main driver behind the job growth, increasing employment in the sector by 24% by the end of 2021.

“It’s potentially the most rapid rise we’ve seen in B.C.’s construction workforce in the past decade,” Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada, said at the release of their 2017-2026 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast.

“The pace and magnitude of many of these proposed projects will require the steady recruitment of new workers from the local workforce and from outside construction or outside the province to meet labour demands, especially in remote locations,” she added.

The report notes that Industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) building is also continuing on an upward trend. It warns however that the “extended expansion” of the construction of new housing is expected to wind down this year.

Outpost Recruitment helps local construction companies to source talent both locally and internationally. Formerly Moving2Canada Recruitment, the company was set up in 2012 with a focus on assisting Canadian construction companies to hire from overseas when faced with a labour shortage.

Outpost’s founder, Ruairi Spillane, says the agency’s clients in the commercial and institutional buildings sector are seeing much more construction activity in 2017 so far.

“Infrastructure activity in the Lower Mainland is set to increase steadily with the George Massey Tunnel Replacement, Lions Gate WWTP and Annacis Island WWTP breaking ground in Q2. We may also see the Patullo Bridge, Millennium Line Broadway Extension and Surrey LRT move forward in 2017,” Spillane says.

He explained that Canadian employers love to hire British and Irish talent who have gained local experience in Canada.

“They have a strong balance of technical and communication skills, a can-do attitude and they bring with them lots of international experience that local firms can learn from.”

“Outpost’s niche is connecting companies with incoming talent from the UK and Ireland, but over the past five years we have built a strong network of local talent.”

The key roles Outpost focus on are Superintendents, Project Managers, Project Coordinators, Commercial Managers and Estimators for both general contractors and subcontractors. Outpost recruit personnel for ICI buildings and civil infrastructure projects.

  • BuildForce Canada’s forecast also shows:
    Following peak levels of activity, residential employment is expected to decline by about 15 percent workforce over the scenario period;
  • Renovation and maintenance work is expected to exceed new housing by 2022, accounting for almost two-thirds of residential employment;
  • The need to replace as many as 40,000 baby boomers retiring from construction in the next ten years.

“The retirement of 21% of B.C.’s construction workforce compounds the challenge for recruiters,” Sparks added.

“Attracting more women and indigenous people to construction could be a big part of the solution in filling that skills gap. Right now they make up just four per cent of the province’s skilled construction workforce.”

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