As one of the major construction centres of the world, Canada is a great place for finding construction jobs abroad. The strong project pipeline combined with a similar culture and language make Canada an excellent choice for construction professionals. For employers, employing construction talent from overseas gives them access to global experience and best practices while helping them address their skills shortages. If you’re interested in finding construction jobs in Canada or hiring a construction professional from overseas, here’s what you need to know.
Why Choose Canada?
Across Canada there are more workers retiring from construction than there are new entrants joining the industry. Combined with the increased demand from major projects, there are several skills shortages across the country. According to Job Bank Canada, construction estimators, quantity surveyors, civil engineers, commercial construction managers, construction site managers and project managers all have good to excellent job prospects across most provinces and territories due to limited local availability. Wherever you may be interested in working, you’re bound to find a construction job in Canada.
What Construction Projects Are Available in Canada?
For the last two decades, construction activity in Canada has seen uninterrupted growth. This is just a brief overview of the types of construction projects currently underway in Canada.
If you are looking for aviation projects in Canada, Ontario is the place to be. With both the Hamilton International Airport and Toronto Pearson Airport undergoing major upgrades, aviation engineers will be busy for several years. On the west coast, Vancouver International Airport is busy implementing their 20-year, CAD$5.6 billion major upgrade strategy, which is due for completion in 2037 and will be driving demand for aviation jobs in British Columbia.
Transport and Rail
Transportation projects in Canada are a major focus for the country. Rail projects – and specifically light rapid transit (LRT) projects – are a booming sector in Canada, particularly in Ontario. With the CAD $3 billion Ottawa Stage 2 Light Rapid Transit (LRT) project and the CAD$2.5 billion Finch West LRT project starting – and several more on the horizon, including various rail electrification projects – it’s safe to say that rail electrification engineers, rail systems engineers, rail signalling engineers, and construction professionals with rail experience can take their pick of rail projects in Ontario.
Rail projects in Canada aren’t just limited to Ontario. Earlier this year, Montreal-Trudeau International Airport awarded contracts for its CAD$2.5 billion upgrade to the transportation and access at the airport, to integrate with Montreal’s Réseau Électrique Métropolitain (REM) automated LRT system which is currently underway.
Energy and Utilities
Upcoming energy projects in Canada include a new liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal and hydroelectric earth-fill dam in British Columbia, as well as several transmission projects and power station renovations across Ontario and several other provinces. Hydroelectricity and electrical connectivity projects were also announced earlier this year in the Federal Budget. Energy efficiency is another key growth area, making up 20% of all construction jobs in Canada in 2018. If you’re an electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, or project manager with energy and utilities experience, there is plenty of work to choose from across the country.
How to Work in Canada
Please note that Maxim Recruitment is a construction recruitment agency and does not offer any immigration or work visa advice. Please consult either an ICCRC-approved immigration consultant in Canada or Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for help and advice.
If you’re interested in working in Canada or finding a construction job in Canada, a work permit is required. There are a few different ways to get one, depending on your situation. If Job Bank Canada classes your role as a National Occupation Classification (NOC) 0, A or B – which most construction jobs are – you may be able to apply through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP). This requires a job offer from an employer and leads to an employer-specific work permit for construction jobs in Ontario. Other provinces – such as British Columbia – have similar programs.
For an open work permit for any employer in any province, you may consider a Working Holiday Visa. It is available for citizens 18-30 years of age from certain countries, including Hong Kong and the UK, among many others – some countries have different eligible age ranges as well. With a working holiday visa, citizens can participate in this program once and can stay for up to 12 months (Hong Kong) or 24 months (UK).
The International Mobility Program is an option for those who have a job offer from an employer and who qualify for one of the categories that are Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exempt. For British and European citizens, the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) make it easier for professionals of certain countries to work in Canada. For native French speakers destined to work outside of Quebec, the Francophone Mobility work permit is a straightforward and easy option.
If you don’t qualify for a work permit under an exempt category, your employer will have to obtain an LMIA which proves that there is no Canadian worker available to fill the role before they can hire you. There are several streams under the LMIA including high- and low-wage, and the Global Talent Stream.
If you aren’t sure which option is best for you, try using the Immigration and Citizenship eligibility tool, which will tell you what immigration programs you may be eligible to apply for. Alternatively, seek specialist advice from an ICCRC-registered immigration consultant such as BDO Immigration Services – see more about what they offer.
Something to Consider
Canada offers a good work/life balance as well as what appears to be one of the most stable and growing construction markets in the world, currently as well as for the foreseeable future. Flights and good transport links make it easy to return home for visits, and the culture is very similar to the UK. If you’re looking for a new challenge, Canada may well be a viable option with the wide range of programs available for prospective workers. Combined with professional advice from a specialist Canada construction recruiter about how marketable your CV is in Canada, this country could well be a long-term option for construction professionals who want a great career and comfortable lifestyle.
About the Author
Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada
I am responsible for recruiting construction professionals in Canada and North America. I specialise in the recruitment of Project Managers, Program Managers, Cost Managers/Quantity Surveyors, Commercial Managers, Delay, Dispute and Claims Consultants for civil engineering and building contractors and specialist construction consultancies and subcontractors. I have over 20 years’ experience in international construction recruitment and enjoy working on both contingency and search/headhunting assignments for our range of clients.