We're just about a week into 2017, and according to economists, starts in 2017 should increase about 5%. 

However, despite positive economic forecast, there's a great deal of uncertainty leading into 2017, as there always is with a newly elected President. Besides that, here's five important industry trends to keep an eye on in 2017. 

1. Labour Shortage

If the economy in Alberta comes back online, all the tradesmen who were forced to find work in other areas of employment, or the ones who were forced to move back home during the recession, will no longer be there to fill in the employment gaps. 

Currently, the average age of a construction worker in Canada is 41 years old, and with the lack of emphasis on trade schools and a diminishing surplus of youth going into construction, labour shortages aren't likely to go away anytime soon. 

2. Future Infrastructure / Spending Boost
There was recently an article making the social circles that stated the "Post-fire construction boom in Fort McMurray expected to surpass height of oilsands frenzy."

Besides that, there's 8.5B earmarked for infrastructure spending in 2017, which should spur quite a bit of construction growth in the province, and aid in restarting economic activity in a province that sorely needs it. 

3. Modular / OffSite construction
With lagging economies, construction firms, contractors, and subcontractors, are looking for ways to cut costs and cut construction time, and modular construction and offsite construction is one such way to do just that. 

"It’s one of those things that people figured out would be a good thing to do. I’ve seen the problem being that no one wants to be the first to do it. If I’m the first and it fails, I’m an idiot," he said. "Things change slowly in construction. Once something is embedded, then it takes off pretty quickly." — Julian Anderson, President of Rider Levett Bucknall

4. Construction costs may rise due to labour shortage and materials
Many industry experts have cited rising costs in 2017 as their major concern for the year. Between October and November, construction materials fell .5% according to the Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of Labour Statistics. 

ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu cautioned that this drop was just the "calm before the storm" and he expects that prices will continue to rise in the near future, which will cut into contractors margins. 

5. VR / AR tech
Despite the buzz that surrounds virtual reality and augmented reality technology, its use is still lagging behind the vision that people have for it. But there's no surprise why there's such a buzz around VR / AR in construction. The ability to do walkthroughs of properties while they're still in the design phase is an unparalleled advantage to firms that can take advantage of it. 

Will 2017 be the year it finally takes off? Hard to say, but Tony Colonna, Senior Vice President for Innovative Construction Solutions, said about the new technology, "You can see a lot of very sophisticated presentations, but the challenge is with the software platforms today," he said. "It’s kind of cost prohibitive to use that on a regular basis. It’s in more of early deployment."

What are you looking out for as we venture further into 2017? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn!