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Construction employers anticipate major skills shortage, Hays reports

DCN News Service
Construction employers anticipate major skills shortage, Hays reports

TORONTO — Three of four construction employers are concerned about the availability of skilled labour, reports the annual Hays Canada Salary Guide, released recently.

The construction-specific findings were contained in a broader survey of Canadian industry. In it, Canadian employers were found to be heading into 2017 with considerable economic optimism, said the Hays media release, but their buoyancy is muted by the country’s declining oil market and worries that mid-level staff turnover is on the rise.

The seventh annual Hays Salary Guide has revealed a 19-per-cent spike in confidence for a strengthening Canadian economy next year and nearly two-thirds of respondents expect their business activity will increase. Nevertheless, employers are heavily focused on stability and risk-avoidance and will opt for a conservative approach to business in 2017, said the report.

In the construction sector, more than half (58 per cent) of the employers anticipate business growth in the new year and 48 per cent planned on keeping staff levels the same, meaning construction employers are confident and stable, but choosing a more cautious approach to the new year, said Hays.

Seventy-seven per cent of construction employers feel their industry suffers from a skills shortage, which is higher than all other industries surveyed.

The report said the challenge lies between two main factors: fewer people entering the job market and lack of training in the current pool of candidates.

"As baby boomers retire or reach senior management, they are leaving a skills gap that can’t be filled with the current workforce," the report indicates. "Competition is tight for experienced workers and managers."

The estimated shortage nationwide continues to be a challenge, said the report, especially since the bid process has become more complex and construction models have changed with the introduction of P3s and other new templates.

Seventy-three per cent of construction employers believe competitive salaries make them attractive to top candidates, yet seventy-one per cent haven’t altered them to attract top talent.

As is similar across all industries, the majority of employers offered a salary increase of less than three per cent in 2016 and plan to do so in 2017 as well. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of employers in the construction industry expect to increase salaries by three to six per cent in the coming year, which may be indicative of the efforts employers are undertaking to retain their senior level employees.

The survey also found career growth has the most impact on recruitment, yet fewer employers are offering training or professional development than the previous year.

Over the past year, hiring trends in the construction industry were comparable to cross–industry averages, with 40 per cent seeing consistent headcount and 31 per cent seeing an increase, the Hays guide reported.

However, when it comes to expectations for 2017, construction professionals have a more positive outlook with 40 per cent planning to increase their headcount.

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