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Canada’s construction industry needs mobile workforce, says BuildForce

February 18, 2014 | By Anthony Capkun

February 18, 2014 – Canada’s construction industry will need to attract more young people and workers willing to move from other provinces, regions and countries to meet its changing labour force needs says a new labour market forecast by BuildForce Canada.

“As major projects gear up and wind down, building a new and mobile workforce is an industry priority,” said Rosemary Sparks, executive director of BuildForce Canada. “This will help fill the skills gap, as up to one-quarter of the construction workforce retires over the next decade.”

“2014-2023 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward” shows strong labour demands continue in the West as some markets slow in the East. As a result, more workers from other provinces and countries are needed, especially during peak periods.

Mobility is key to meeting industry needs over the next five years, says BuildForce, with specialized skills and experience in short supply in some regions. As many as 300,000 new workers will be needed to replace retirees and meet project demands over the next 10 years.

• Resource projects in Newfoundland & Labrador and Northern Ontario drive a surge in labour needs to 2014 or 2015. Oil sands developments, sustaining capital and maintenance work in Alberta, rise to new peak demands by 2019. Major new resource and infrastructure projects in Northern British Columbia drive construction employment to an all-time high in 2017.

• New mining and infrastructure projects, including transit expansion, and refurbishment of nuclear power facilities in Ontario, will drive job growth over the next decade.

• While expansion slows in Saskatchewan, labour demands stay well above historical levels.

There will be recovery and expansion in Manitoba and sustained levels of employment in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Non-residential construction leads job growth, with a series of major resource and utility/infrastructure projects providing cyclical workforce demands in many provinces, and more moderate but steady growth in commercial and industrial sectors.

Residential construction slows as several provincial housing markets experience a brief downturn in 2013 before moderate recovery to 2015 and 2016. Residential employment remains below the 2007 peak until 2023 in some provinces. Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia are moderately stronger, with a small gain in residential job growth from 2014 to 2023. A shift in the residential market is driven by slower population growth and new housing starts declining to come back in line with household formations. Renovation construction continues to grow, partially offsetting the decline in new construction.

“Meeting the demand for skilled labour takes long-range planning and investment,” added Sparks. “The focus in every region should be on a collective effort to draw youth, women, Aboriginal people and newcomers to construction careers and build the ranks of future specialists, foremen and supervisors.”

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