February 15, 2018 2:05 am
Updated: February 15, 2018 2:21 am

B.C. construction jobs offer entry wages up to $27.31/hour, and they’re growing: survey

A new study says B.C's construction workers will see a ten-per-cent raise over the next two years, while their industry struggles to find enough people. Geoff Hastings reports.

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Finding a high-paying job can be a tough task in Metro Vancouver.

But there’s one sector where wages for even entry-level workers run as high as $27.31 per hour — construction.

Coverage of construction on Globalnews.ca:

B.C.’s building boom isn’t slowing down, and the coming year is expected to be a profitable year for construction.

And an expensive one, if wages go up as much as professionals expect them to.

Chart showing how much B.C. construction wages are expected to grow in the coming years.

Independent Contractors and Business Association

A survey by the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA) shows that construction wages in B.C. grew by over 10 per cent over the past three years.

In the coming two years alone, wages are expected to grow by just over nine per cent.

And the increases are even more dramatic when you look at specific trades.

READ MORE: If you want to make above-average money, B.C. may be your worst bet: CIBC

Wages for ironworkers alone are set to grow by 7.7 per cent in 2018, while roofers and pipefitters are each expected to see pay hikes of 6.7 per cent.

The highest entry-level wage? That would be for a safety officer, where you can make $27.31 per hour when you’re starting out.

But the highest foreman wage went to refrigeration and HVAC professionals, at $45.55 per hour.

A chart showing expected wage increases for B.C. construction workers in 2018.

Independent Contractors and Business Association

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The wage increases are “far outstripping inflation,” and that’s significant, ICBA president Chris Gardner told Global News.

“If you’re a young person looking for, considering career opportunities, and you want a job in construction, you’re going to find a job.”

Metro Vancouver’s construction boom is taking most of the attention, but demand for trades workers is province-wide.

“If you’re working in construction or looking for opportunities in construction in the north, in the Interior, on Vancouver Island or here in Metro Vancouver, you’re going to find a job,” Gardner said.

And project proponents are likely to see higher bills.

“We’re already seeing it in housing,” Gardner said.

But high demand also means that it’s difficult to find workers in various trades.

Of the employers surveyed by the ICBA, 100 per cent said they couldn’t find enough glaziers, or workers who install windows.

This chart illustrates B.C. construction worker shortages.

Independent Contractors and Business Association

That presents a problem in a place like Vancouver, where the exteriors of numerous condo buildings sometimes look like they’re made completely of glass.

Meanwhile, 93 per cent of employers said they faced critical shortages when it came to pipefitters, 91 per cent when it came to sheet metal workers, and 89 per cent each when it came to electricians and plumbers.

Regionally, the Interior appears to be facing the most critical shortage of qualified workers overall.

There, 82 per cent of employers say they’re having trouble finding people, compared to 80 per cent in Northern B.C., 76 per cent on Vancouver Island and 74 per cent in the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley and Whistler.

  • Video report by Geoff Hastings

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