Building Magazine


Canadian construction industry experienced larger than expected dip in business and hiring activity, Hays Canada survey finds

Canadian business leaders in the construction industry have proven to be overly optimistic about their business and hiring prospects while suffering from severe skills shortages. This is the main finding in Hays Canada’s “2014 Salary Guide” which collected data from more than 400 Canadian construction employers in November 2013. There was an eight point difference between forecasted and real decreases in business activity last year – 8.5 per cent expected a dip in activity, and yet 16.4 per cent actually experienced one. This translated into fewer people being hired for permanent positions. Seven per cent of construction businesses expected to decrease permanent headcount in 2013, when in fact 20 per cent did.

The Hays survey indicates that business leaders remain optimistic. 66 per cent of Canadian construction employers predict business activity will increase in 2014.

“It’s worth noting that construction employers remain optimistic even when data suggests that a temperate outlook would be more prudent,” said Rowan O’Grady, president of Hays Canada. “Companies would be better served by producing more accurate assessments of their growth prospects and adjusting their hiring plans accordingly.”

Against this backdrop the skills shortages challenge persists. According to the survey 81 per cent suffer from moderate to significant skills shortages – a seven point increase from 2013. When asked about potential causes for skills shortages one quarter (27 per cent) cite lack of training and professional development, while another 44 per cent think too few people are entering the labour market.

Hays Canada’s Recommendations for Tackling Talent Shortages:

Creating more partnerships between colleges and construction companies, with a drastic increase in guaranteed apprenticeships will help promote this industry as a viable option for the next generation of construction professionals. It will also take some time to reap the rewards because it will take years for tomorrow’s professionals to go through this process.

In the meantime, it is possible to hire a slightly less experienced candidate with transferable skills who can be trained and mentored to develop into the ideal employee. However, employers will have to invest more in their human capital to achieve the desired results.

Survey Highlights:


  • 48 per cent of employers believe the economy will strengthen in the next six to 12 months, while 47 per cent believe it will remain the same.


  • 49 per cent of employers expect permanent staff to increase in the upcoming year.
  • 9 per cent expect it to decrease.
  • 42 per cent expect it to remain the same.


  • 48 per cent of employers expect to increase salaries by three per cent over the next 12 months.
  • 39 per cent expect to increase salaries by three to six per cent.
  • 5 per cent expect to increase salaries by six to 10 per cent.

The 2014 Hays Compensation, Benefits, Recruitment and Retention Guide is Hays’ seventh edition of this annual report.

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