Rock to Road

B.C. attracting workers from Alberta

February 23, 2016  By  Andrew Macklin

February 23, 2016 – Strong activity in British Columbia’s construction industry is drawing skilled workers back to the province from Alberta and more young people are entering the trades, according to the 2016 Construction Industry Survey released by the BC Construction Association, in partnership with Progressive Contractors Association and Construction Labour Relations.

The survey found that 45 per cent of employers hired a worker last year that came directly from working in Alberta’s oil and gas sector. The number of youth going directly into the construction trades from high school is up 15 per cent since 2014.

“The record number of construction projects now underway and the outlook for sustainable growth is drawing British Columbians back home,” said BCCA President Manley McLachlan. “The message is starting to sink in with youth and their parents that a career in the trades is a great choice. This is helping BC employers succeed in a very mobile and highly competitive labour market, but there is much more work to do to fill the skills gap.”

While key economic data in the 2016 survey confirm a healthy and expanding sector, storm clouds continue to loom on the horizon for B.C.’s $8.1 billion construction sector. Two-thirds of workers in skilled trades are now over the age of 45 and in their wake there are not enough new people entering the field. These demographic trends and a projected increase in construction activity are forecast to create a 15,000 worker shortfall.


“To avoid labour shortages that could stunt economic growth industry and governments need to continue to work together to skill-up BC’s workforce,” said McLachlan.

The 2016 survey also provides the most complete picture to date of trade wages and salaries in BC’s construction sector. Some key findings include:

– 94% of BC construction employers say they are planning to hire in 2016. These will be predominantly fulltime, year-round jobs.

– 50% of employer respondents reported offering higher wages than 2015.

– 88% of entry-level workers are happy with their wages.

– 44% of apprentices received a raise in 2015.

– $56,170 is the average annual salary of a BC construction industry worker.

“Skilled workers are the backbone of the industry, and tight supply is making it a worker’s market. Employers need to focus on retaining the talent they have,” said McLachlan.

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