On-Site Magazine

Canada will need 319,000 new construction workers from 2012-2020

By Andrew Snook   

Construction Skills Development

Canada’s construction industry will continue to have record high levels of employment over the next decade, according to the Construction Sector Council’s (CSC) latest forecast of labour supply and demand.

The CSC’s national summary report, Construction Looking Forward, 2012-2020 Key Highlights, states that Canada will require approximately 319,000 new construction workers from 2012-2020, due to increased construction demand and expected retirements.

CSC business co-chair Tim Flood stated that recruiting labour for projects is the first priority; however, training and retaining workers to meet current and long-term needs is also a critical challenge for the industry. 

Flood said the industry is working to ensure apprenticeship programs and other types of training and support systems receive the investment necessary to keep pace with demand.


The forecast shows the national construction labour force increasing by approximately 100,000 workers between 2012 and 2020, with major projects in non-residential construction – including large industrial and engineering projects – driving much of the demand.

Over the next decade, it is estimated that 219,000 construction workers in Canada will retire, leaving the industry with the task of replacing more than 20 per cent of its workforce.

Flood said industry promotion would play a vital role in attracting new workers, in addition to tapping into potential sources of labour supply, including an increased focus on attracting youth, women, Aboriginal peoples, workers from other industries and immigrants.

CSC Labour co-chair Robert Blakely, director of Canadian affairs for the Building and Construction Trades Department AFL-CIO, said human resources managers will be faced with a major challenge in regards to tracking the mobility of key non-residential trades across regions and potentially from abroad.

The forecast also looks at a new aspect of the national competition for skilled workers that focuses on specialized labour markets, created by increased demand for workers for resource projects, such as mining, oil and gas, pipelines, electrical generation and transmission.

According to the CSC’s report, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador report very strong employment growth and that major resource projects will exhaust their available workforces for some skilled trades and occupations during peak times. Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia follow the overall national pattern of recovery and expansion across the outlook period, with employment increasing as much as 20 per cent from 2012 to 2020 in some regions, while Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia’s construction employment growth from year-to-year is more moderate.

The national and regional reports will be available online at www.csc-ca.org this spring.
Forecast data is also available at www.constructionforecasts.ca


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