Procore Technologies, Inc. recently released its Canadian construction industry benchmark report, “How We Build Now: Technology and Industry Trends Shaping Canadian Construction in 2023” which assesses the general sentiment of the industry, the digital maturity and adoption of construction technologies, and the challenges and opportunities businesses are facing.
The report revealed that in Canada, 9 out of 10 respondents express confidence in the industry’s future, with seventy per cent expecting an increase in project numbers and seventy-two per cent in project values over the next year. Additionally, a recent poll revealed that ninety-two per cent of Canadians believe there’s an urgent need to build or update infrastructure in the next two years.
The report highlights that forty-three per cent of residential sector workers plan to build more housing units in 2023. In contrast, respondents from B.C. (fifty-one per cent) and Alberta (fifty-five per cent) expect to build fewer units, while sixty per cent in Ontario anticipate more construction.
Labour shortages are a major concern, with twenty-nine per cent unable to take on more projects due to this issue. Additionally, twenty-seven per cent find it challenging to compete for talent, and thirty-two per cent fear losing experienced employees to retirement.
Supply chain problems affect respondents differently, with forty-one per cent in Québec facing significant delays compared to thirty-five per cent in Ontario and twenty-five per cent in B.C.
To address these challenges, twenty-two per cent of construction firms consider themselves digital-first, and fifty-one per cent are progressing toward digital adoption. Technology can improve resource efficiency and reduce rework, which consumes twenty-seven per cent of project time.
Almost half of all projects exceed budget (fifty per cent) and schedule (forty-nine per cent). Over thirty per cent of respondents seek new technology to enhance operational efficiency and cost control.
Despite the digital push, paper remains prevalent, with twenty-three to twenty-eight per cent of respondents still using paper-based or non-digital workflows.
The report underscores the value of data, with forty-one per cent of respondents desiring better access to real-time and historical project performance data. Improved data management could save up to twelve per cent in project spending. However, seventeen per cent of project time is spent searching for data.
Half of the respondents have data foundations but lack dedicated teams. One in five rely on spreadsheets or paper and don’t leverage data for business outcomes.
“We are encouraged to see the Canadian construction industry’s leaders express optimism as they look to consolidate and build on post-pandemic progress,” said Nolan Frazier, regional sales director, Canada, Procore.
“In particular, this survey shows half of the respondents see a need to embrace greater collaboration in projects among stakeholders; half of them are also well on their way in their digital transformation journey. Some also recognize the opportunity to leverage the massive amounts of data generated through the use of technology to make more data-driven decisions across every phase of the construction life cycle. Ultimately, smarter construction empowers construction businesses to have better control of their projects and deliver higher quality builds.”
Respondents identified construction management platforms, clean technologies related to green, sustainability, or innovative materials, and next-generation BIM as the key technologies driving change in the construction industry in the coming three years. More than half of the respondents (56 per cent) either currently use (29 per cent) or plan to adopt (27 per cent) construction management platforms within the next year. Similarly, over 60 per cent of Canadian organizations either currently use (26 per cent) or intend to adopt (36 per cent) clean technologies in the next 12 months.
Roughly half of the respondents (50 per cent) have begun implementing strategies like prefabrication and improved material selection to reduce project carbon footprints. Additionally, 40 per cent are already tracking or plan to start tracking carbon emissions in their construction projects within the next year.
The representation of women in the construction workforce remains limited, particularly in executive roles (24 per cent). Subcontractors exhibit the lowest female staff ratios, with only 22 per cent of executive staff being female, compared to approximately 25 per cent at owners and general contractors. Nearly 40 per cent of construction decision makers acknowledge the necessity of enhancing diversity and inclusion within construction workplaces to attract women, minorities, and historically underrepresented groups. Only 41 per cent of respondents currently have a diversity and inclusion policy, with an additional 45 per cent planning to implement one within the next 12 months.
Approximately 41 per cent report having established wellness and mental health practices or policies to reduce burnout, and 46 per cent plan to implement such measures within the next year, as exemplified by Procore’s Get Construction Talking campaign.
Despite significant labor challenges, respondents remain optimistic about the future. About 80 per cent express confidence in having an adequate workforce (79 per cent) and the required skills (80 per cent) to meet organizational demands over the next year.