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Posted by Jim Fearon, VP, Hays Canada on Thursday, Jun 14, 2018
Construction is one of the busiest sectors in Canada, and has seen a lot of recent growth. It’s a good time to be in this industry, with half of employers saying they will increase headcount in 2018.
However, we may be seeing a slower pace of growth. While a majority of employers say business activity increased in 2017, it was still a lower proportion than in 2016 and even fewer expect further growth in 2018. This doesn’t mean market activity will decrease, but we may be at the start of a plateau.
Regardless of any deceleration, demand for talent is still high, and is unlikely to wane in the next year.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are all seeing flat markets, although some sectors such as commercial remain busy. BC has seen a number of projects slowed down or paused for review, including Site C and the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The GTA market remains one of the busiest in the country, with more than $16 billion of investment in transit, as well as a number of major P3 and design/build projects under way. The housing market is still driving activity, although interest rates and new investment regulations caused a large drop in sales in August and have tempered demand. It will take some time before we know the long-term impact of these changes.
Commercial and industrial projects lead the industry in Montréal, while civil operations will intensify and drive activity in the region for the next five years with the $6 billion electric train project.
What does that mean for your job prospects and salary?
“Construction remains a busy sector, employing more than one million Canadians. With retirement increasing, we are working with industry, government, and educational organizations to bring more people into construction,” says Fabio Filice, President, Calgary Construction Association. “From increasing access to apprenticeships, to promoting construction as a great industry to work in, we want to show Canadians that it’s an exciting time to be in construction.”
Construction full time hiring was higher than average, and next year half of companies say they will increase headcount, which is huge. However, the ongoing skills shortage is still a major challenge for construction firms.
This means lots of opportunities for construction professionals, especially those with the right skills and experience.
What’s in high demand? Senior project managers, contract managers, and estimators at all levels. We’re also seeing shortages for people with ICI and high rise experience. If that describes you then 2018 could be the year to drive your career further, faster.
This demand is causing wage pressure, but recent years of high salary growth have put many employers off widespread increases. Construction employers are less likely than average to say they will increase salaries by more than three percent. This may be affecting people’s satisfaction with their salary, with 41 percent of construction professionals saying their salary does not align with market rate – up from 32 percent in 2017.
If you’re negotiating, whether with your current employer or as part of the hiring process, be aware of market rate, but if the offer is competitive, consider focusing on other factors that will help you meet your career and personal goals. That could be opportunities for training or a personal development allowance, an increased bonus instead of base salary, or additional vacation time.
Make the most of opportunities in the market
With so many opportunities, how can you drive your career in 2018?
Specialize in a growth area
As mentioned, high rise and ICI are seeing especially high demand, and are likely to continue to grow. Focus on one of these or other growing areas to become a sought after candidate.
Be open to relocation
If you’re looking for career growth, be open to relocation. Sometimes a move outside your region is your ticket to the fast lane.
Take a long term view
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your career in the long-term is to make a lateral move in the short term. Make sure your decisions today align with your long-term goals, not just today’s priorities.
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