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Saskatchewan's Construction Industry Prepares for Shift in Workforce

Skilled labour requirements over the coming decade are changing, requiring many of the workers recruited over the last several years to stay on for major new projects, according to BuildForce Canada.

The 2014-2023 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast  by BuildForce Canada shows construction activity and employment growth slowing, but  well above historical levels. Major resource projects that drove construction employment to a record high in 2013 came to completion, signaling some shift in the labour force away from big projects and housing. A large segment of the workforce will be employed in commercial and institutional building, where there is steady growth.

"Although the focus for the construction industry is shifting, the goal is the same," said Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. "Building a strong, permanent workforce requires long-range planning to promote skilled trades to young people and to encourage out-of-province workers to stay."BuildForce Canada's forecast also shows:

  • Residential has been one of the fastest growing markets in Canada over the last few years, with a peak in residential construction in 2013. The housing labour force will shift to renovation work, partially offsetting slower new housing activity. The workforce remains well above historical levels at the end of the scenario period.
  • Non-residential construction employment has increased by 50 percent since 2007. While major activity is expected to slow, with fewer opportunities in engineering construction, this is partially offset by steady but moderate growth in industrial, commercial and institutional construction. This keeps employment well above historical levels.
  • Just under 7 thousand workers are expected to retire over the next decade, with retirements spread across all construction trades and occupations.

"This means 19 percent of the workforce will need to be replaced," added Sparks. "Attracting and recruiting youth, Aboriginal people, women and newcomers to Canada will help to partially offset these retirements."  

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