Construction of mixed residential and commercial development, Victoria B.C., May 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Construction of mixed residential and commercial development, Victoria B.C., May 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. skilled trade shortage continues in COVID-19 work slump

Interior, North, Island contractors look for busier 2021

Even with construction activity down due to COVID-19, in-demand construction trades are expected to see wages increase by an average 7.7 per cent over the next two years, according to a new survey of B.C. construction employers.

A survey of 1,000 construction companies across B.C. found that every single steel fabricating, glazing and insulating company reported they needed more trades people, followed by 94 per cent of firms employing mobile crane operators, 92 per cent for roofers and 91 per cent for pipefitters.

“It seems counter-intuitive to expect wages to jump 7.7% over the next two years at the same time employers are planning for less construction work, but that is how tight the B.C. labour market has become,” said Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, which conducts its wage and benefits survey annually. “British Columbia is going over a demographic cliff, with a workforce that is rapidly aging out. There is incredible opportunity in construction for young people, entrepreneurs and skilled trades workers.”

RELATED: Trade union expansion top NDP priority for 2021

RELATED: Opposition teams up to defeat NDP union raid plan

Big energy projects LNG Canada, the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C Dam have kept B.C. construction going through the pandemic, and B.C. did not join other provinces in shutting down large building construction due to risk of COVID-19 transmission. But even with that, the B.C. finance ministry’s latest quarterly report found the largest job loss between February and November 2020 was in construction.

“We are far off what used to be the norm of more than half of all construction contractors expecting more work in the coming year,” Gardner said. “The percentage of contractors who foresee a decline in business in 2021 is almost twice as large as last year. While the North and Vancouver Island remain relatively optimistic, the Lower Mainland and rest of B.C. are very nervous.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New figures show Canadian housing prices outpacing those in other developed countries. (Black Press Media file photo)
Canadian housing prices fastest rising in the world

Relative to 2000, housing prices have risen by a factor of more than 2.5

Victoria’s economy is expected to bounce back fairly easily, according to a new report from BMO Capital Markets released April 15. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria in good position to bounce back post-pandemic, says BMO

City’s smaller size, lower COVID-19 caseload and diverse industry base bode well

Three new flight exposures have been reported departing from or arriving at the Victoria International Airport between April 7 and 11. (File photo/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Three flight exposures reported at Victoria International Airport

One flight on April 7 and two on April 11 had confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at David Cameron Elementary School. People may have been exposed on April 14 to 16. (Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Colwood elementary school

Exposure at Esquimalt’s Ecole Victor-Brodeur also confirmed

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria rose to 5.7 per cent in March 2021, an increase of 0.8 per cent compared to February 2021. But the local unemployment rate remains the among the lowest in Canada. (Black Press Media File)
Greater Victoria’s unemployment rate rises to 5.7 per cent

The increase marks a reversal from recent months, but local economy among the strongest in Canada

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read