Tips to stay ahead in a trades labour shortage

April 14, 2023

From major companies to independent contractors, it’s becoming difficult to find and retain skilled workers for a crew. In fact, according to a recent BuildForce Canada report, these challenges are expected to persist into 2026.

Some of the many overlapping reasons for the shortage include a large segment of the industry reaching retirement age, a high cost of living driving demand for greater compensation and the preference or priority often given to university education, lowering the number of people entering the trades in recent decades and delaying the age that people to begin to work in the trades too.

Whatever the reason behind the labour crunch, there are some potential ways to stay ahead.

Taking action

There are government and industry association programs intended to support the industry and ease the labour shortage. They include changes to work or immigration policies to allow for more international workers, and promotional campaigns and new apprenticeship programs to bolster understanding of the skilled trades as rewarding, important careers.

At the same time, there are a few things contractors and builders can try taking into their own hands to deal with the challenges of being short of qualified crew. Here are some ideas:


Revisit compensation

Though it may not be a dream solution, it’s important to look at the marketplace and see how wages stack up. Compensation is not only about financial incentives either; access to training and opportunities to grow skills and take on responsibility in the future matter to those joining the construction industry. They can be the difference maker for a candidate choosing between employers.

Cross train for a broad skillset

It’s always valuable for small contracting crews to expand their skills, but particularly so during a labour shortage. Then they can offer more to their clients in-house and avoid having to source and pay a premium for a more experienced specialist for projects like roofing or siding installation. Tools and materials that are versatile and simple to install make this process easier. Even for seemingly involved projects like stonework there are high-quality yet easy-to-complete solutions like Fusion Stone.

Tech to go easier

While smaller businesses may not be able to take advantage of the automation and robotics big companies are using, there are smart ways contractors and builders can leverage technology to make work easier. Taking advantage of apps or programs to ease steps like scheduling, project management, invoicing or payroll could leave a little more time do the work itself.

Knowledge sharing

Even if it seems like a lot of effort to train someone young and green, they can be the most dedicated and loyal workers when the job is the right fit and includes the right opportunities. Contractors who can offer mentorship can gain loyalty – and skilled workers – along the way.


Branch out hiring practices

Word of mouth is great, but contracting businesses can also get active in online job boards and networking through trade associations etc. Connecting with the community at large, beyond a personal network, can make them more visible. Job postings should be clear and straightforward and touch on compensation and any perks – whether they target someone with decades of experience or none.

Look in less-expected places

Builders who seek out an untapped applicant pool might be surprised. In an industry viewed as male dominated, women, permanent residents and Indigenous Peoples are typically under-represented and could bring a lot of potential.

Overall, this is food for thought. Every business will have their own approach to get through this squeeze on labour.

When it comes simplifying processes and getting great results, Fusion Stone is a mechanically fastened stone veneer system that’s easy to install and doesn’t require specialized skills or expertise. Rather than hiring a mason for stonework, any renovator can install it themselves, inside or out – even a trainee or apprentice can do it.

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