Piling Canada

Where are the Workers?

Worker mobility and retirements will affect construction industries for Canada's East Coast
Written by Piling Canada
May 2015

Worker mobility and retirements will affect construction industries for Canada’s East Coast

Submitted by BuildForce Canada

As opportunities arise in other locations and the Baby Boomer generation inches closer to retirement, many industries are facing an impending labour shortage in the coming years. In February

2014, BuildForce Canada released the 2014-2023 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast, and shared findings about the construction industries in our East Coast provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador – with Piling Canada.

As a skilled labour shortage looms on the horizon, now is the time for Canadians in the construction industry to implement plans to recruit, train and retain workers. For more information, turn to the HR Department column starting on page 71 of this issue of Piling Canada, and read Barbara Bowes’ advice on how to help your business pull through by making sure you put your people first.

New Brunswick construction industry must focus on rebuilding workforce
Planning for major new projects will be a top priority for New Brunswick’s construction industry, as retirements and out-of-province projects draw on the skilled labour pool, according to BuildForce Canada.

The 2014-2023 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows a moderate decline in construction employment over the next two years before the start of new major engineering projects create employment opportunities in 2016. Across the outlook scenario, industry faces the growing challenge of an aging workforce, with as many as 6,000 skilled tradespeople, or 28 per cent of the current labour force, expected to retire.

“Replacing retirees and building up the workforce is essential,” said Rosemary Sparks, executive director of BuildForce Canada. “The goal is to be ready when specialized workers are needed for pipeline, mining and marine terminal projects are starting in 2016.”

These projects may also involve recruiting New Brunswick’s skilled trades back from other provinces and/or hiring a temporary workforce from outside the province.

The forecast also shows that proposed new major indus- trial and engineering projects translate into strong demand from 2016 to 2018 for a selected group of trades and occupations with specialized skills and experience. New Brunswick also faces competition for skilled labour from resource projects in Western Canada, including current and new projects in Alberta and British Columbia over the near term, as well as immediate opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The challenge is convincing skilled workers to stay and others to come back when projects at home ramp up,” added Sparks. “That’s why now is the time to focus on recruitment, training and retaining a skilled labour force.”


Young recruits key to building Nova Scotia’s construction industry
With many workers retiring over the next decade, Nova Scotia’s construction industry will need to step up efforts to attract more young people.

BuildForce Canada’s forecast shows modest employment growth at the same time as the industry faces an increase in retirements and out-of-province resource projects.

“Up to 25 per cent of the workforce will be retiring over the next decade, creating a real need for young, skilled workers,” said Sparks. “There is a lot of opportunity in construction, making it a great career choice for young people.”

Employment opportunities will shift to industrial and utility projects, with commercial, industrial and utility construction supporting current levels of employment. Modest job growth and equal gains and losses will balance activity in most years to 2023.

Nova Scotia also has an older than average workforce, which adds to the pace of retirement. Just over 6,600 workers will likely be retiring over the next 10 years across all 33 trades and occupations tracked.

“Projects in other provinces and industries, such as shipbuilding, also create skilled labour challenges for the construction industry,” said Sparks. “This is the new reality that makes recruiting, training and retaining a skilled construction workforce more important than ever.”

P.E.I.’s construction industry must convince skilled workers to stay 
Keeping skilled workers at home will be a major priority for Prince Edward Island’s construction indus- try to help counter rising retirement rates. The forecast shows retirement losses cannot be entirely offset by young people entering the workforce for the first time in the province.

“With as many as 1,500 workers retiring over the next 10 years, attracting, training and retaining a skilled workforce is more important than ever for the local construction industry [in P.E.I.],” said Sparks. “It will take real planning to replace the rising number of retirees.”

Labour requirements will rise with new investment in industrial and utility projects and commercial and institutional building, helping to reduce unemployment rates to below average levels in 2015 and 2016.

“The real challenge will be encouraging skilled workers to stay, and convincing others to return home when conditions improve in 2015,” added Sparks. “That’s when retirement pressures really set in and the province will need a larger skilled workforce to draw on.”


Retirements and resource boom test Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction industry
Labour requirements of large resource projects, coupled with the retirement of almost 25 per cent of the province’s workforce over the next decade, create complex challenges for the construction industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The 2014-2023 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows the main challenge is recruiting for several large and remote resource and infrastructure projects. Between 2007 and 2012, provincial employment grew by 70 per cent, with the vast majority hired for resource projects. Construction employment reached a record high in 2013 and will continue into 2014, before these projects wind down and many workers move on to jobs in other provinces.

“That’s what the construction industry [here] really has to prepare for,” said Sparks. “Some of these workers will need to stay for ongoing projects, capital and maintenance work, and to replace as many as 4,700 retirees over the next 10 years.

Commercial and institutional building is closely linked to the provincial economy with steady but moderate growth expected, while industrial and engineering construction rises and falls with investments in mining, electricity generation and transmission and offshore oil projects.

“Industry has worked hard to keep pace with changing demands,” said Sparks. “Recruitment plans will need to be continually adjusted and tailored for each trade and occupation, to counter worker mobility and rising retirements.”

BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization committed to providing accurate and timely labour market data and analysis to assist in meeting workforce requirements and advancing the needs of Canada’s construction industry. BuildForce consults with industry stakeholders, including owners, contractors, labour groups and government to compile and validate its labour market information. Visit www.constructionforecasts.ca.

{fastsocialshare} 🍁

Category: Business

About Us

Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.

Sign Up

Submit your email to receive our e-newsletter.