Automation may have made elevator operators obsolete, but it’s quite the opposite for those who install and repair elevators. Elevator Mechanic shot up the Canadian Business ranking of Canada’s Best Jobs in 2017. It had the highest growth rate and rose from No. 74 in 2016 to No. 10 in 2017.,Median Salary:$83,844Salary Growth (2010–2016):+16%Total Employees:7,000Change in Employees (2010–2016):+94%
What fueled the tremendous growth in the need for elevator mechanics?
The booming construction market is fueling the demand for high-rises, and by extension, elevators. Adding to the construction boom is the Canadian Press investigation last year that revealed a ‘crisis’ in faulty elevators. As a result, there are plenty of opportunities for elevator mechanics as landlords’ scramble for qualified contractors to maintain their systems. Although Canada’s construction boom has led to tremendous growth in the need for elevator technicians— the number of elevator mechanic jobs have grown 94% in Canada – the field is having serious growing pains.
Clearly, elevator mechanics are in short supply. Like other occupations in the skilled labour force, elevator technicians get overlooked when students graduating from high school start looking for careers. As well, there are more people retiring than those coming into the workforce to replace them leaving a huge void to fill.
Elevator mechanics face many challenges
Elevators are complex and becoming even more so. Elevator technology is moving so fast that it’s near impossible for technicians to keep pace. “Smart elevators” use algorithms to shuttle passengers more efficiently, and some technologies adjust the heat and air conditioning of office floors based on where people land. Meanwhile, technicians must also deal with elevators that date back to the 1930s, which can be unpredictable. With multiple cars that sometimes dispatch seemingly at their own will, a mix of old and new technologies that make them stubborn to fix, and new flight speeds of 100 floors per minute, being an elevator technician is a tough job.
Along with the challenge of keeping up with the technology is the challenge of keeping pace with maintenance calls. As property owners try to cut costs, technicians are reporting a dangerous lack of maintenance. As well, with the lack of skilled technicians and the increasing number of elevators to be serviced, some technicians rush through hundreds of maintenance jobs per month, reportedly with time limits as quick as seven minutes per visit. Politicians are pushing new policies, but still, increasing numbers of citizens are getting stuck inside elevators, stuck with dangerous ones, if not stuck with the stairs.
Politicians have initiated new legislation. Ontario introduced the Maintenance Control Program for Elevating Devices in 2014, telling mechanics exactly which tasks to perform each month, down to vacuuming the pit. Toronto Member of Parliament Han Dong has also introduced the Reliable Elevators Act, which mandates maintenance timelines and data collection on elevator traffic.
Elevator maintenance is a high-paying job, yet there’s still a mismatch of supply and demand. More mechanics need to be trained, if only to ease the demand on those already working in the field. There is obviously a great need for qualified technicians and an abundance of opportunity for a well-paying career.
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