2015 will provide respite before competition for skilled trades ratchets up.
Canada’s construction industry has been phenomenally successful. It has hired 600,000 new workers over the past 18 years–a growth rate of 86%. Now a record 1.3 million Canadians – 1 in 14 – make their living working in the construction industry.
But forecasts say that won’t be enough to meet the anticipated demand for labour as up to 210,000 older, more experienced workers leave the workforce for retirement over the next decade. This exodus will contribute to a projected shortfall of more than 100,000 new workers.
The combination of this shortfall with a fat pipeline of massive projects in energy, mining and infrastructure underway or in the planning stages across the country will intensify competition as projects progress over the next decade. For 2015, cyclical dampening of commodity prices, uncertainty over land claims, and the dip in oil prices will see some projects delayed or scaled back. These recalibrations and the general pullback in residential building will provide some respite over the next year, with a limited recovery in non-residential building starting in 2016.
Here’s a preview of where and when labour demand will shift in 2015 and beyond:
- Ontario’s massive infrastructure projects drive current demand; longer-term resource and power projects will accelerate demand as up to 25% of the province’s workforce retires.
- BC is facing the retirement of 34,000 workers – and the arrival of major resource and infrastructure projects that will drive employment along with a surge in housing – and competition for skilled trades – to an all time high by 2017.
- Alberta needs to replace 37,000 retiring workers in the long term even though demand for skilled trades – and the need for non-resident labour – should ease in the short term.
- Saskatchewan will see a shift away from big projects and housing to commercial and institutional building; 19% of the workforce heading for retirement needs to be replaced.
- Manitoba’s major hydro projects are generating high demand for select skilled trades – and after a pause in 2015, that will increase with a new round of projects after 2016. Up to 21% of the province’s construction workforce is retiring.
- Quebec is seeing a pause in labour employment after an extended boom. The pause is due to reduced residential demand, completion of major infrastructure projects, and major hydro projects passing their peak labour demand.
- Atlantic Canada can expect weak demand in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador seeing higher requirements from ongoing oil and gas and shipbuilding projects.