British Columbia’s construction industry has had and continues to have a major impact on the growth and strength of our province. This industry has literally built B.C. – everything from homes, airports and office buildings, to roads and bridges. Every project is a tribute to the skilled workers and organizations leaving their mark year after year. The construction industry is the #1 employer in BC’s goods sector and contributes 8.7% of our provincial GDP: more than forestry, mining, agriculture, and fishing combined. With over $115 billion invested in current construction projects and an estimated $206 billion in proposed construction projects, it is evident that our construction sector is that backbone of our provincial economy.
Over the past five years our workforce has grown by over 21%, with 236,000 employees in BC’s construction sector currently working today. With just over 15% of construction professionals unionized and 95% male, diversity and job retention are two key issues, closely linked, and top of mind for employers as young workers consider their options at a time of generationally-low unemployment across BC. Diversity has always been stagnant within the construction industry and men continue to dominate most blue collar sectors. Construction is seen as the “last frontier” in terms of increasing numbers for female representation. Other industries & sectors such as the military, law enforcement, etc. have surpassed 15% female representation. The numbers of women in construction mostly have remained unchanged for years but BC’s construction sector is encouraged about the future for women looking for a career in construction. While high employee turnover is another major factor facing BC’s construction sector, this is a continuous issues that innovative companies are always looking to address. Around 92% of construction firms across BC have less than 20 employees, with this we are seeing a positive shift in workplace culture and employee compensation. Along with this we are seeing a sense of pride construction professionals have for their specific organization. Management is seeing the benefit and return on investment as they reinvest back into their employees and organizational culture. While turnover is still seen as an ongoing issue, the numbers for improvement are encouraging.
As we approach the second half of Q4 we have put together a high level overview of key statistics within BC construction sector. The overall number of BC construction labour force is up 17% over the last five years with an estimated 236,000 employees working across the province. Similarly the number of construction trades professionals is also growing with a total of 180,300 working today. Another encouraging stat highlights the average wage within the construction sector across BC. With an average wage of $61,784, construction professionals in British Columbia are being paid over 50% higher than the average Canadian. This is also a figure that has grown by 10% over the past five years, with a new survey from the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. suggesting an additional wage increase 10% over the next two years for independent contractors. Lastly we wanted to highlight the total number of construction companies across the province. Construction entrepreneurs are constantly innovating within this historically traditional space. The surge of new construction technology has lead to the creation of industry sub sectors and opportunities for individuals throughout the province. The number of construction companies have grown by 17% over the past five years and total companies across BC fall just north of 26,000. The pace of construction growth in British Columbia is expected to continue into 2020, and forecasts show that we still have over $200 billion invested proposed provincial projects allowing for assurance to remain strong.
In the end, British Columbians need stable jobs distributed throughout towns and cities across the province – ongoing employment that pays living wages, not short-term, risky jobs that can perpetuate local boom and bust economies. Most of BC’s construction jobs are in housing, building repair and small infrastructure projects. Although individual projects are short-term, ongoing building repairs, infrastructure upgrades and new housing starts create a consistent demand for workers in this sector. With construction being one of BC’s most stable and consistent industries, moving forward these statistics are encouraging for both our federal and provincial economy.