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

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Head-on collision Jan. 14 claims one life west of Fort St. James

Jenkins said alcohol, as well as road surface conditions, have been ruled out as factors

Nechako River, Vanderhoof, B.C. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Officials keeping close tabs on Nechako River after ice jam causes area flooding

District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, though, said water levels have gone down, for now

Vanderhoof home sees water from the Nechako move up into the yard, and within hours, water was seen up to the deck. Ken Young, Vanderhoof councillor posted this photo on social media.
Mayor concerned about ice jams in the Nechako river

“We have never lived with a frozen river at this magnitude during our time in council,” mayor said.

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read