Report: design jobs in high demand for B.C. construction
VDC and BIM position salaries have continued to rise while other wages have stabilized.
- Demand remains high for foremen, project coordinators, project managers, estimators, superintendents and general skilled trades workers.
- While wages for many other roles have stabilized, design-based BIM and VDC roles have continued to see increases.
- The report noted that many employers have been looking at factors beyond just salary to attract and retain talent, including hybrid work options or opportunities to advance.
The Whole Story:
Demand for trade contractors overall in B.C. continues to be strong but more tech-driven roles appear to be particularly sought after recently.
A new report from Impact Recruitment shows that substantial growth is expected throughout the year as construction projects for residential, commercial, institutional and major infrastructure continue to emerge.
The firm noted that with this comes increased need for skilled and qualified trade contracting professionals across the mechanical, electrical and civil sectors. Roles currently in high demand include foremen, project coordinators, project managers, estimators, superintendents and general skilled trades workers.
The report noted that the rising population and the need for market and purpose-built rentals are contributing to the demand. The industry has also seen an uptick in civil construction that started near the end of last year. Major infrastructure projects show no signs of slowing and Impact anticipates that contractors will have no shortage of work for the foreseeable future.
Rise of tech
Michael Scott, the vice president of Impact’s building division, explained that while the last several years saw rising salaries across trade contracting sectors, this peaked in the latter part of 2022 with salaries stabilizing across the board. The one exception is design-based roles where VDC and BIM positions, in particular, continue to see noteworthy salary increases.
According to Impact, hiring managers are prepared to meet, and often exceed, salary expectations in order to compete for candidates. Larger construction projects are also prompting contractors to hire in-house design teams rather than outsource to engineering firms.
“It’s just pushing through the roof which is great because it’s another avenue for people to go through,” said Scott. “Lots of people think construction is just using your hands but not a lot think about the technology aspects behind a project, how it gets built out and modeled. There is lots of opportunities as systems get more complicated.”
Scott noted that companies are even getting workers from overseas and training them up locally to fill demand.
“It’s really exciting, even to the point where at Impact we have dedicated more of our team to filling these roles for our clients and our clients are saying they haven’t reached capacity yet,” he said. “If that’s an additional string on your bow, you are in a pretty good spot.”
Scott explained that as wages for many roles in the trade contracting sector have stabilized, employers have looked for other ways to attract and retain talent.
“We noticed probably halfway though last year a lot more employers started to look at things different,” he said. “Do they have to just compete on one factor or can they compete ways that matter for attracting people. If you take away pure dollars, what are you going to be able to provide?”
He noted that for many roles, candidates are receiving multiple offers so they can be picky about who they decided to go with. One major factor is remote work.
“As we have gone through COVID where lots of people have moved away into different suburbs, location of work is a big thing. Lots of people are asking about hybrid work arrangements. This is pretty interesting because in our world there isn’t always the chance to do that.”
Scott said candidates are also looking for longevity and stability as troubles mount in the global economy.
“What job seekers want is stability but where does that come from? It can come from moving jobs to a different employer with a better pipeline of work, or ongoing progression at an existing company,” said Scott. “It’s about what you want your career to do in the short term and beyond five years.”
The report explained that the onus is on the employer to make it clear that they are invested in the individual success of everyone on their team by offering growth and development opportunities, clearly communicating details and expectations for upcoming projects, and touching base regularly to gauge satisfaction.
The report noted that as future-focused recruitment and retention efforts have never been more important. Across the sector, many skilled professionals are looking to advance their careers by moving into management-level roles while others are nearing retirement. Impact stated that this will inevitably result in larger talent gaps and pressure for higher salaries in the future.
“Attracting fresh talent into the trade contracting sector will be key to avoiding mass capacity issues for large projects – which if left unaddressed could lead to huge project delays and, in some cases, cancellations,” read the report.