B.C. construction industry faces dire job forecast by 2028

By Andrew Cowie and Michael Williams

An already depleted B.C. construction industry is facing a bleak job forecast.

Data from Stats Canada released Friday shows that one in five working Canadians are set to retire in the next five years, meaning the construction industry could lose around 25,000 workers by 2028.

According to Sal Nasery, lead project manager for Vancouver General Contractors, the province is already facing a shortage of skilled workers.

“There has been a labour shortage since COVID,” said Nasery. “The big thing is that the skilled workers have been getting older and less people are getting into those technical roles.”

As workers retire and fewer new hires are made, the construction industry is facing a massive need for skilled professionals.

“The big thing with construction is experience,” said Nasery. “Having those experienced employees is crucial.”

Not only has it been difficult to hire new workers, Nasery added it has been also a challenge for construction companies to retain workers.

“We’ve having to pay people more to fill consistent roles and it’s a constant juggle,” said Nasery. “Wherever you get someone who’s experienced there will be five (or) six companies pursuing them.”

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Brynn Bourke, executive director of B.C. Building Trades, said data from her company shows the industry will need to hire and train 27,000 workers to fill the gap retirements will create.

In the past, many workers were recruited from high school, but now the average hired worker is older and less educated according to Bourke.

“The average apprentice is about 26 (or) 28-years-old. They probably didn’t take Calculus 11 or Physics 12,” said Bourke. “It’s a barrier when you have to tell people to go back and take those courses.”

“We have to get more creative with not only how we recruit and approach new entrants but how we assess them and place them into the system.”

The Stats Canada release showed unemployment in Canada was at 5.2 percent, the lowest point on record.

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