B.C.'s construction industry continues to boom despite skilled labour shortage
More than half of B.C.'s contractors expect more work in 2018 than in 2017, but trades are in high demand
More than half of B.C.'s contractors are expecting more work than last year, according to an industry survey — if they can find workers with the appropriate skills.
A new survey from the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. also expects construction workers' wages to increase almost 10 per cent over the next two years.
"The message is clear: if you want to work in construction, there's a job out there for you," said ICBA CEO Chris Gardner in a statement.
Trades in high demand
ICBA surveyed contractors across the province, asking about their business expectations for the next year.
Survey respondents almost universally said they're having trouble finding skilled workers, especially tradespeople.
"The need is intense," said Gardner in a news release. "Every single glass company we surveyed this year said they needed more glaziers."
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As for other trades, 93 per cent of employers said they're having trouble finding pipefitters, 91 per cent said they're lacking sheet metal workers, and 89 per cent need more electricians and plumbers.
The reported shortages have increased significantly over last year, up more than 60 per cent for pipefitters and concrete finishers.
Overall, 75 per cent of companies reported a shortage in trades workers this year, compared to 59 per cent last year.
More work for more money
Fifty-three per cent of contractors surveyed say they expect more work than last year in 2018. Forty-three per cent expect work volumes to stay the same, and only four per cent expect it to decrease.
Among contractors that build high-rise residential buildings, 67 per cent are expecting their work volume to increase.
Companies are also expecting to pay their employees more. Survey respondents are expecting to increase wages by 4.5 per cent across all trades in 2018, and 5.1 per cent in 2019.
In contrast, inflation for those years is expected to be 1.79 and 2.06 per cent, respectively.
According to ICBA, about 225,000 British Columbians work in construction, and the industry generates about 10 per cent of the province's GDP.