Property and facilities job growth signalled

Alberta employers' expectations differ from tendency to optimism elsewhere in Canada
Thursday, February 25, 2016

Employers report more difficulty filling openings for senior residential property managers, commercial property managers, building operators and power engineers than other positions in the property and facilities sector. The four job functions emerged as in demand in a recent national survey from the human resources consulting firm, Hays Canada. Survey results also indicate that work opportunities in the real estate industry are generally on par with or better than nine other examined industry sectors.

The breakdown of hiring and compensation trends shows nearly 37 per cent of surveyed property/facilities management companies increased permanent staffing levels in 2015, placing the sector as the fourth most active hirer after IT/telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and construction. Approximately 21 per cent of surveyed property/facilities employers cut staff in the same period — compared to 28 per cent of respondents in the construction sector, 55 per cent in resources and mining and nearly 63 per cent of surveyed oil and gas companies.

Prospects for property and facilities job growth also look upbeat, as nearly 35 per cent of surveyed property/facilities employers expect to add more staff this year and nearly 57 per cent are anticipating a pickup in business activity. Employers in the professional services sector had largely similar expectations with 35 per cent of respondents expecting to hire more staff and 53 per cent projecting business growth, while 41 per cent of banking/finance employers indicated they’d be augmenting their workforces and two-thirds are expecting business activity to increase.

Both the latter scenarios should have positive spinoffs for the property/facilities sector that accommodates those pursuits. Even so, the survey sponsors highlight current well-documented economic incongruities.

“The sentiment among Alberta respondents is markedly different than the rest of Canada. Fifty two per cent said their business activity decreased in 2015,” observes Rowan O’Grady, president of Hays Canada, in the introduction to the survey results. “The impact of this decline on business cuts to staff are clearly reflected in employers’ 2016 outlook, with just 14 per cent believing that it will strengthen in 2016.”

Commercial positions out-earn residential equivalents

Roughly half of reported salary increases in the property and facilities sector were below three per cent last year, although approximately 21 per cent of employees who received raises saw increases greater than 6 per cent. For the coming year, 60 per cent of employers report they’ll proffer increases of no more than 3 per cent.

Thus far, jobseekers with in-demand skills and experience don’t appear to be reaping notable remunerative premiums. For example, although senior residential property managers are currently well placed to find employment, reported typical salaries are about 27 per cent lower than reported typical salaries for senior commercial property managers, and also tend to be lower than the typical salaries commercial property managers earn.

The survey’s comparison of salary ranges for various roles and regions reveals that commercial property management positions are more lucrative than equivalent roles in the residential sector at every level of responsibility, and that salaries are often higher in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton than major cities to the east. Reported typical salaries for commercial property managers — ranging from a high of $89,000 in Calgary and Edmonton to a low of $65,000 in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal — surpass senior residential managers’ typical earnings, ranging from a high of $79,000 in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton to a low of $60,000 in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal.

Building operator is among the lowest paid of all surveyed positions (although out-earning maintenance workers, leasing assistants and residential site managers) with reported typical salaries ranging from a high of $65,000 in Calgary and Edmonton to a low of $45,000 in Winnipeg, Montreal and the Greater Toronto Area. Chief power engineers garner higher wages, from upwards of $80,000 in the Greater Toronto Area to a low-end range of $50,000 to $55,000 in Montreal.

Among the survey’s 14 other professional services categories, two real estate related functions are also identified as in demand. Accounting and finance firms are looking for commercial and retail property accountants, while law firms are seeking real estate lawyers.

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