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Overview of the Construction Industry

Introduction

B.C. has seen strong growth in Construction industry employment, expanding from about 200,000 in 2015 to the current level of almost 240,000. This large workforce moves from project to project and is facing a steady flow of new projects over the 2019-2029 period.

Over the first few years of the forecast, there will be a temporary surge in demand coming from LNG Canada and other major construction projects, but this surge in demand is expected to tail off by the middle of the decade. As a result, by 2029, the workforce is projected to have expanded by a modest 3,600 job openings due to economic growth. At the same time, strong demand for new construction trades workers will be driven by the need to replace retiring workers, with 55,800 replacement job openings being forecast.

Detailed Construction Industry Outlook | B.C. | 2019-2029

construction industry employment outlook from 2019 to 2029
Source: B.C.’S Labour Market Outlook: 2019 Edition
employment outlook and forecasted average annual employment growth rate; forecasted industry share of total employment; earnings 2019 to 2029

Average hourly wages in construction for men and women 2014 and 2019Charts: Labour-Market-Information/Industry-Information/Industry-Profiles/Construction

Buildforce Canada 2021-2030 Highlights

Source:  Buildforce Canada

The industry includes both residential (housing) and non-residential construction.

Sectors with strong demand for construction workers include:

  • Transportation systems
  • Renewable electricity generation and transmission projects
  • LNG terminals
  • Pipelines

Over the period 2021-2030, industry growth increases the labour force by more than 18,600 workers – up 10% compared to 2020. Industry must also address the need to replace an aging workforce, with an estimated 41,000 workers, or 22% of the current labour force, expected to retire. Combining retirement and expansion demands, the construction industry will need to recruit close to 59,650 workers over the coming decade. This demand may be partially met by up to 35,150 new entrants under the age of 30 available locally, but a significant portion of remaining demand will need to be drawn from other industries or other provinces

Source:  Buildforce Canada

The industry has responded by developing a number of programs to attract newcomers. These include:

  • initiatives to attract newcomers to remote locations of the province
  • corporate efforts to encourage diversity in the workplace
  • strategies for streamlining foreign-credential recognition

One initiative is the ITA’s Immigrants in Trades Training program, which helps skilled immigrants who are unemployed, or employed and low-skilled, overcome barriers to entering the trades, including jobs in aviation and aerospace.

More information:

The BC Construction Association has created a programs for new Canadians:

  • British Columbia Construction Association’s Integrating Newcomers (BCCA-IN) is a program that helps newcomers enter the construction workforce in British Columbia

The Federal Government is also recognizing the importance of new immigrants in the construction sector. Opportunities offered through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program help fill short-term job gaps within Canada’s construction industry.

More information:

For more information on the construction sector see:

Occupations in the Construction Sector

The construction sector is made of up numerous occupations. Each career has its own unique set of experience and training requirements. While new workers are needed for most occupations, some careers are in greater demand than others.

The top fifteen trades in projected job openings across BC over the next 10 years includes these from the Construction Industry

  • Carpenters
  • Construction trades helpers & labourers
  • Painters & decorators (except interior decorators)
  • Construction electricians
  • Construction millwrights
  • Plumbers

Source:  B.C.’S Labour Market Outlook: 2019 Edition

Labour Market Outlook 2018 - Top Trades Occupations 2018 - 2028

Source: Labour Market Industry/Top Demand Trades

For detailed information on occupations in the construction sector, including job description, educational requirements for working in BC, salary, and more see:

Hiring Forecast by Region

The majority of construction jobs are in Metro Vancouver (Mainland/Southwest region of the province). Job prospects may be very good if you are willing to relocate to other regions of the province.

 

Lower Mainland Construction Outlook

The Lower Mainland construction market experienced a sharp decline in residential and commercial activity in 2020. New housing was hit hardest, as housing starts retreated by one-quarter (-25%) from the highs reached in 2019, but sector employment was shielded from big declines by ongoing construction of the large number of apartment and condo projects already under construction.

Overall, non-residential market demands recorded a small rise, as construction on several major projects in the region either started or ramped up in 2020. These projects included hospitals, schools, the Pattullo Bridge replacement, and Millennium Line (Broadway).

Residential construction, which accounted for more than two-thirds of total employment in 2020, will continue to dominate industry employment in the Lower Mainland over the coming decade. Total construction employment is projected to rise to a peak in 2024

Vancouver Island Construction Outlook

The Vancouver Island region experienced a modest slowdown in construction activity in 2020. Although a recovery in commercial activity is expected to shore up demands over 2021, a material rise in construction activity is not expected until 2022, when a recovery in new-home construction coincides with the expected start of major health care and education projects.

Total construction employment is expected to grow by 13% between 2021 and 2024 before receding moderately in line with weaker housing demands. Between 2020 and 2030, construction employment is projected to rise by 1,600 workers (+6%). Growing demands are exacerbated by the need to replace an estimated 7,845 workers expected to retire from the regional construction labour force over the decade.

Source:  Buildforce Canada Forecast Summary Reports

Additional information on construction activities in specific regions can be found at:

Finding Jobs

Online Job Postings

  • Indeed.com
    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards.

Trade Journals

Industry journals provide information about trends and careers in the industry.

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers in the construction industry in British Columbia. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

Additional Resources

Still looking for more information? Try looking at the following resources: