Wanted: Construction workers

Hey, want to build houses? Asking for our friends in the construction industry.

Driving the news: As one-fifth of Canada’s construction workforce nears retirement age, the industry faces a severe labour crunch as it struggles to recruit new builders. 

  • The sector is currently battling record-high vacancies, with CIBC’s Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal recently calculating 80,000 open roles.

  • A KPMG survey also found 90% of construction companies are suffering a skilled labour shortage, hindering their ability to meet deadlines and take on projects. 

Why it matters: You can’t build homes without builders. And, sorry if we sound like a broken record, but Canada. needs. more. homes. to restore housing affordability by 2030, per the CMHC. Specifically, 3.5 million more homes than the country is currently on track to build.

That’s why the industry is dabbling with automation

Around 79% of construction companies plan to spend at least 6% of their operating budgets on technology and digital transformation. In fact, some already use land-surveying drones, brick-laying robots, and (super terrifying) Boston Dynamics robo-dogs for data capturing. 

  • Canadian startups are chipping in too, like Optimotive, which builds robots for construction grunt work, and Promise Robotics, which builds robot carpenters.

Yes, but: Robots aren’t at the stage where they can build a house from scratch. Ultimately, their best use might be helping attract workers to the field by making jobs easier and safer.

Bottom line: We still need more flesh and blood builders for the foreseeable future. We’d help out if we could, but our delicate hands are only good for typing newsletters.—QH