In an extensive three-month survey of construction contractors and industry leaders, New York accounting and consultancy firm Grassi and Co. found that regulatory compliance and cyber security often topped the list of concerns in the industry.
The survey asked about labour conditions, the regulatory environment, safety compliance, technology, cyber security, and insurance, among other topics identified as significant issues and trends by an advisory panel of industry experts.
While skilled labour shortages and general business conditions were recognized as concerns by many of the respondents, over 82 per cent of whom identified themselves as contractors or sub contractors, over a quarter cited keeping up with regulatory compliance as a top concern.
Almost half of the respondents noted an increase in open-shop and non-union work in the residential sector. “This shift in share, between union and non-union contractors has broad implications for the competitive landscape,” said Carl Oliveri, construction practice leader at Grassi & Co.
As construction businesses increasingly rely on technology to improve efficiency and outcomes on projects, cyber security is getting more attention from owners. Around 45 per cent of survey respondents said construction projects are becoming more vulnerable to cyber crimes, while 62 per cent currently have a company policy to protect data on laptops and mobile devices. “We advise our clients to think beyond their four walls to ensure they have not only a physically safe job site, but also a cyber-safe job site,” said Oliveri.
Still, underneath the industry’s challenges is an underlying optimism among its professionals. 86 per cent of respondents believe revenues will continue or increase in years to come.
Industry forecasts paint a similarly rosy picture of the demand for construction. BuildForce Canada reported in January that the industry’s intensity will likely continue throughout the next decade, partly from the need to refurbish power plants across Southwestern Ontario, and from increased demand and investments in public transit.
Demand in the industry brings the issue back around to worker shortage, as BuildForce Canada’s report also notes Ontario will require over 100,000 new workers in construction to get the work done.
“The most significant near-term growth is expected in Southwestern Ontario, where requirements related to nuclear refurbishment, the Gordie Howe International Bridge, and the construction of industrial buildings increase non-residential employment by 4,000 workers between 2018 and 2021 – an 18% increase over three years,” the BuildForce report notes. 5,300 more workers will be needed in the GTA for the Eglinton light rail construction, in addition to other public transportation and infrastructure work, it says.
Grassi & Co. specializes in accounting and business consulting services for the construction, architecture and engineering, manufacturing and distribution, and other industry sectors. Its construction industry survey conducted by an independent research firm.