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Skills shortage continues to hurt construction, survey says


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December 16, 2015 by STAFF REPORT

Construction sector continues to suffer from skills shortage but firms are committing to more internal training and development, Hays Canada survey reveals

Canada’s construction sector is suffering from a moderate to extreme skills shortage that is hindering companies in the hiring process, according to a recent employment survey.

Less training and development opportunities and fewer people entering the industry are some of the causes singled out by respondents to the sixth annual Hays Canada survey.

Conducted in October, the Hays 2016 Salary Guide highlights employer confidence, takes a look at business expectations versus results and provides a snapshot of hiring trends and challenges.

Heading into 2015, Hays found nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of construction respondents anticipated business growth during the year. However, at the end of the year, one-third reported losses likely due to the general unsteady state of Canada’s economy. Even in the face of the slowdown and flat salaries, 37 per cent of construction employers said they increased staff levels during the year.

When asked how they feel about their prospects for 2016, the three-quarters of respondents expect the Canadian economy to strengthen or remain stable, half  anticipate increased business activity and nearly 40 per cent intend to boost their company’s headcount.

“While it’s unfortunate that not everyone in the construction industry hit their 2015 targets, the success that did occur is great news given the turbulent year we’ve had in Canada,” said Rowan O’Grady, President, Hays Canada.

“The construction industry is typically a good indicator for the overall health of the country’s economy and knowing that there are many big projects slated for 2016, it’s easy to understand why there’s a sense of optimism for next year.”  

Skills Shortage

While many of the country’s construction employers have plans for a strong 2016, the vast majority (78 per cent) of industry respondents believe the sector suffers from a moderate to extreme skills shortage that impairs their ability to hire. Thirty-four per cent said that this is a consequence of less training and development while an additional 31 per cent blamed declining numbers of people entering the industry.

Encouragingly, construction firms have chosen to tackle the skills shortage head-on. Just over half (54 per cent) of respondents have chosen to offer training and professional development programs as a talent recruitment strategy.

Doing so also has the peripheral benefit addressing employee career development expectations as 29 per cent of Canadian employees across all industries said they would leave an organization that doesn’t support their aspirations. 

“Training staff and supporting career development is no longer a nice-to-have perq. It’s a basic employee expectation not to mention a critical recruitment and retention advantage,” added O’Grady. “It’s encouraging to see that construction firms have decided to take the bull by the horns and attempt to resolve their own talent shortage problems. This is good for business, great for employees and the industry as a whole.”

Additional findings

  • More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of Canadian employers have moderate to extreme difficulty recruiting talent
  • Sixty-one per cent of Canadian employers have moderate to extreme difficulty retaining staff
  • Twenty-nine per cent of employees will leave an organization that doesn’t support their career development goals. While half of employers recognize the priority employees place on career development, they choose instead to focus on salary, company culture and benefit packages
  • 42 per cent of employers feel that a skills shortage has resulted in productivity issues  
  • Fewer than half (49 per cemt) of Canadian employers find social media to be an effective tool for recruiting staff

Hays Specialist Recruitment Canada is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hays plc, which has been at the forefront of the global recruitment industry for over thirty-five years. With annual revenues of over £2.1 billion, Hays Specialist Recruitment is the largest specialist recruitment consultancy in the world.


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