Career Pathway

PMIC has undertaken a strategic and focused effort to deliver the following objectives: 

Promote Building Operations as an occupation and viable career path.

Develop a National commercial real estate baseline standard for Building Operators in collaboration with industry Owners & Managers.

Work towards establishing NOC codes for the CRE Sector pertaining to Building Operators in collaboration with government, CRE industry owners and operators, and industry associations that will meet both current and future operational needs.

Release a Building Operator Designation (BOD) Program designed to meet the needs of the Canadian Commercial Real Estate Sector by increasing their knowledge, competencies, and skill sets of Building Operators.

Build strong, productive, and transparent relationships with CRE industry associations, building owners and managers and other organizations who are committed to best serving the needs of this important sector. 

The PMIC (Property Management Institute of Canada), recognizes there are current and future challenges that real estate owners and operators face today and into the future. By developing strategies in co-operation with the sector, PMIC is committed to helping the industry overcome these shortfalls. We have laid out our initiative framework and are currently seeking input and support from industry leaders through the Building Operator Fund initiative.

Industry Research Report Findings

Several industry research reports exist that support PMIC’s commitment to the development of the BOD Program and a series of programs intended to elevate building operations as a viable occupation with a defined career path. Summaries of several related and interesting research reports have been included with links to the full report.

Building Operator Scoping Study – ECO (Environmental Careers Organization) Canada with funding by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program (2011)

The research identified a number of challenges and gaps within the building operator profession which should be addressed in order to build a strong, qualified, and valued workforce for the future. These challenges include a lack of consistent definitions, professional qualifications, and standards, as well as gaps in training and education, and human resource practices. Addressing these challenges will enhance the value of building operators by preparing them to operate high-performing buildings in the present and future. The research found that a clear definition of ‘building operator’ does not exist. Definitions range from a ‘jack of all trades’ who caters to the requests of occupants and the basic operational requirements of a building to a highly specialized technician who oversees overall building health and plays a strategic role in increasing the efficiency of building operations. Furthermore, there is no common framework for defining the positions, roles, responsibilities, and requisite qualifications of building operators. This context, along with the common yet misinformed perception that building operators have responsibilities similar to custodians, has limited the ability of Findings to indicate that various educational and training programs for building operators exist in both public and private spheres, but they remain fragmented and do not appear to be meeting the needs of industry. 

There is no recognized certification system for building operators and confusion exists amongst employers and operators about the appropriate qualifications and training required. Education and training of building operators is also hindered by an industry culture that does not encourage training. One key challenge in this area is that educational programming is lagging behind technological advances in building systems. As such, employers rely on in-house and manufacturer training to fill the gaps. While this is often high-quality training that meets the immediate needs of current operators and systems, the skills acquired through such training are not broadly transferable and there is often no ongoing education provided. While most agree that one single framework is not possible due to the variability within the profession, there is clearly a need for a more coordinated approach to training to meet the emerging needs of building operators and to enhance the credibility of the profession. 

There is general agreement that as the profession becomes increasingly technical and specialized, we will be facing a labour shortage in five to ten years if significant changes are not made. The building operator population is aging rapidly and if the profession is to attract new skilled and qualified operators, it needs to boost its profile through formalized accreditation, better entry-level salaries, incentives, and opportunities for advancement. Moreover, very few building operators are women or come from visible minorities. Finally, the study found a need for increased collaboration among sector stakeholders including governments, associations, industry, and educational institutions. There is a perception that this is contributing to the fragmented nature of the profession. There is an equal failure to integrate building operators into the overall management of buildings and to address aspects of the job, such as occupant relations, both of which are limiting the potential contribution of building operators towards optimizing building performance. Download the full report here.

BOMA BC/British Columbia Labour Market Sector Engagement Partnership Study (2016) 

All stakeholders confirmed that a shortage of skilled Building Operators is indeed real. Several factors were identified as contributing to the skill shortage of building operators ranging from lack of interest, lack of industry awareness, no all-inclusive training or development in a single program, retirement, compensation, and new construction. There is consensus that as the profession becomes increasingly more technical and specialized, we will be facing a momentous labour shortage if significant changes are not made. Educational and training programs for building operators exist, however, they are fragmented and currently do not appear to be meeting the needs. Download the full report here – Final Report.

Labour Market Information Research Study – BC Commercial Real Estate Industry (BOMA BC and Deloitte with funding from Canada – British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement 2017)

More than half (55%) of the real estate workforce is over the age of 45. Accumulated knowledge and experience resides with an aging workforce. This threatens to significantly limit future workforce growth and talent supply if the sector fails to attract younger talent. Additionally, critical industry knowledge and skills could be lost if knowledge transfer between an aging workforce and incoming workforce does not keep up with the pace of retirement. The 15 to 24 age bracket represents 6% of the workforce in both BC and Canada, but only 4% of the workforce in real estate in both BC and Canada. This indicates a low number of people are starting their careers within the real estate industry. This up-and-coming workforce is not only smaller in terms of number of employees entering the industry, but also lacks the industry knowledge of the predecessors. This could lead to a serious shortage of experienced / senior positions as Baby Boomers retire, creating further pressure for succession management and leadership development strategies. Download the full report here.

Commercial Property and Facilities Management Sector Talent Strategy (2018)

The specific occupations in the CPFM (Commercial Property and Facilities Management) industry have little to no profile; neither industry outsiders nor high school and post-secondary students contemplating career paths have any notion of property management or building operations as being viable options. In addition to lacking a visible brand, the CPFM industry lacks clarity about its key occupations. Job titles and descriptions are not formalized and vary from company to company, as do the required qualifications to do the jobs. Technology has dramatically altered many job functions and created some doubt as to whether their NAICS/NOC classifications still fully apply. With the lack of definition around job titles and descriptions comes a lack of formality around the certifications, designations, and competencies needed to perform the key occupations in the CPFM industry, and the possible career paths – all of which leads to an inadequate pool of qualified talent. Upskilling is often informal and up to the employee to pursue, albeit with employer financial support. The programs in place have not necessarily kept up with the changing dynamics of adult learning and can be difficult for employees who work full-time to complete. Download the full report here.

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