Short-term spikes in demand could lead to shortages of experienced workers in British Columbia, but demand will moderate through 2027


Buildforce Canada

OTTAWA, March 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — British Columbia’s construction market has returned to positive growth conditions in 2021, following a brief pause induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking ahead to 2022 and beyond, the industry is gearing up for further growth, driven by increased major project requirements and sustained levels of new home construction.

BuildForce Canada released its 2022–2027 Construction and maintenance Future prospects report for British Columbia today. The report focuses on a six-year horizon for provincial labor market data, as opposed to the 10 years considered in previous reports. The shortened forecast period allows the report to focus more clearly on short- and long-term supply and demand pressures impacting the province’s construction sector.

“British Columbia’s economic growth rebounded strongly in 2021. This trend is expected to continue into 2022 and beyond, supported by strong levels of consumption and continued growth in residential and non-residential investment,” said Bill Ferreira, General Manager of BuildForce Canada. “Demands in both sectors are expected to be sustained throughout the forecast period.”

In the near term, growth will be driven by almost all sub-sectors of the construction industry, including major projects in heavy industry, mass transit, education, healthcare, roads, of highways and bridges, as well as new housing and renovations, and strong demand for the construction of commercial buildings.

Non-residential employment across the province is expected to peak in 2024, before declining through the end of the forecast period as major projects come to an end. Residential employment, meanwhile, is expected to increase through 2022 before ending the forecast period slightly (-2%) below 2021 levels.

“BC’s construction market requires careful consideration not only of the province as a whole, but also of its Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island submarkets, both of which have unique conditions” , explains Ferreira.

The Lower Mainland construction market, which includes Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, the Sunshine Coast, Squamish and Lillooet, accounts for approximately 60% of the BC construction market. Regional activity strengthened in 2021, driven by a recovery in the construction of industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) buildings and the intensification of major project activity. Employment in the Lower Mainland is expected to peak (5% above 2021 levels) in 2023, before declining as major projects wind down and new home construction slows.

Meanwhile, Vancouver Island, which includes the Capital Region, the Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Alberni-Clayoquot, Strathcona, the Comox Valley, the Powell River, Mount Waddington and the Central Coast, has experienced stronger growth in 2021 due to an increase in new housing construction. The start of a series of major healthcare and education projects will help further expansion in 2022, but construction employment is expected to decline 4% from 2021 levels by the end of the year. forecast period in 2027.

BuildForce Canada projects that the BC construction industry will need to hire an additional 27,600 workers over the forecast period to keep pace with expansion and replacement demands. More than 25,000 of these workers – or 13% of the construction workforce in 2021 – are expected to retire during this period. While the addition of nearly 22,000 workers under the age of 30 through local recruitment efforts will help offset these retirements, the labor force faces a short-term need for large numbers of skilled workers. experienced. By 2027, the industry could face a shortfall of 5,700 workers unless projected recruitment is increased.

Upgrading skilled tradespeople in the construction industry takes years and often requires participation in a provincial apprenticeship program. New registrations in BC’s 20 largest construction trades programs peaked in 2018, before declining 7% in 2019. According to the latest data from Registered Apprenticeship Information Systems , new listings fell another 18% in 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19. largely halted the training and certification of apprentices in the province.

Based on projected new registrations and completion trends, several trades could be at risk of undersupplying the number of new journeypersons required by 2027. Trades in this group include Boilermaker, Gas Fitter, Glazier, Heavy Equipment Technician, Industrial Electrician, Painter and Decorator, Roofer and Welder.

The construction industry remains focused on building a more diverse and inclusive workforce. To that end, efforts are underway to improve the recruitment of people from groups traditionally underrepresented in the province’s construction workforce, such as women, Indigenous peoples and newcomers to Canada.

In 2021, there were about 35,200 women employed in the construction industry in British Columbia, an increase of about 7% from 2020 levels. However, about a third of them worked directly in construction on site. As a proportion of the total, women made up only 6% of the 188,200 tradespeople employed in the industry in 2021. This figure is unchanged from 2020.

The Aboriginal population is another under-represented group that presents recruitment opportunities for the BC construction industry. In 2021, approximately 63,700 Indigenous people worked in the construction sector in Canada, representing 9% of all Indigenous people in the labor market. As the Aboriginal population is the fastest growing in Canada and Aboriginal workers seem predisposed to pursue careers in the sector, there may be an opportunity to further increase Aboriginal recruitment into the province’s construction industry. .

The construction industry is also committed to recruiting newcomers to Canada. Historically, newcomers and more established immigrants have made up about a quarter of the construction workforce in British Columbia. With the province expected to welcome an average of just over 55,600 newcomers each year through 2027, the immigrant population will be a key potential source of labor force growth for the construction sector.

Increasing the participation rate of women, Aboriginal people and new Canadians could help BC’s construction industry meet its future labor needs.

BuildForce Canada is a national, industry-led organization representing all sectors of the construction industry in Canada. Its mandate is to support the labor market development needs of the construction and maintenance industry. As part of these activities, BuildForce works with key industry stakeholders, including contractors, construction developers, labor providers, governments and training providers, to identify demand and supply trends that will impact workforce capacity in the sector, and supports career searches. of job seekers wanting to work in the industry. BuildForce also leads programs and initiatives that support workforce development, workforce productivity improvements, training modality improvements, HR tools to support adoption industry best practices, as well as other value-added initiatives focused on supporting the industry’s workforce development needs. Visit

For more information, contact Bill Ferreira, Executive Director, BuildForce Canada, at or 613-569-5552 ext. 2220.

This report was produced with the support and input of various provincial stakeholders in the construction and maintenance industry. For local industry reaction to this latest BuildForce Canada report, please contact:

Kim Barbero
British Columbia Mechanical Contractors Association

Paul de Jong
Association of Progressive Entrepreneurs of Canada

Kelly Scott
British Columbia Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association

Rob Viccars
Communications & Marketing
Canadian Home Builders Association of British Columbia
604-432-7112 ext. 301


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