Building operators continue to be among the most highly sought and lowest paid workers in commercial and multifamily real estate. Annual survey results from the recruitment firm, Hays Canada, suggest the property and facilities sector faces a general ongoing skills shortage and that many employers are prepared to increase salaries over the coming year. However, building operations and maintenance positions are at the bottom of the pay scale.
This happens in the context of what the newly released 2018 Hays Salary Guide describes as “a serious knowledge gap between senior and junior operations staff”. Building operators and building automation specialists are two of five of the sector’s identified in-demand roles, along with property managers, lease accountants and property accountants.
The survey’s breakdown of salary ranges in seven major Canadian markets reveals that operations and maintenance staff in Calgary and Edmonton commonly out-earn their counterparts in other parts of the country. Typical salaries for commercial sector positions in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) are often about $10,000 lower. For example, building operators in the GTA earn in the range of $45,000 to $50,000 annually compared to the typical range of $55,000 to $65,000 in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
Maintenance workers in the GTA, Ottawa and Winnipeg typically secure an annual salary in the range of $35,000 to $39,000, while their peers in Calgary and Edmonton earn $45,000 to $49,000. Maintenance workers in Montreal generally fare better than they would in the GTA, attaining annual wages of $40,000 to $44,000, but many Montreal building operators earn less than their GTA equivalents.
Residential building operators earn less than their counterparts in the commercial sector in every surveyed market, but Calgary and Edmonton, again, offer the best paying jobs. Residential building operators typically earn $50,000 to $55,000 annually in Calgary and $50,000 to $60,000 in Edmonton versus $45,000 to $49,000 in the GTA and Vancouver or $42,000 to $45,000 in Montreal.
A shortage of building operators was also identified in last year’s survey of property and facilities management employers. In the interim, more than a third of the participating firms added new permanent staff and more than one quarter increased their temporary staff complement. The majority of those employers also raised salaries above 2016 levels.
For 2018, just slightly more than 50 per cent of surveyed employers reported they would offer salary increases of up to 3 per cent, while approximately 25 per cent indicated they’d raise wages by an even greater percentage. Hays consultants likewise recommend that competitive salaries will be necessary.
“The retirement rate is expected to pick up in the next few years, further challenging an already shallow talent pool,” the report notes. “In the long term, it seems likely to remain a candidate-driven market as there are more jobs than people in the industry.”