New projects, outside competition and retirements impact demand for construction workers in Nova Scotia
The recent federal shipbuilding contract and other large non-residential projects are creating new opportunities for Nova Scotia’s construction industry.
Industry leaders are taking steps now to deal with new opportunities in some industrial and engineering-related trades, basing their plans on the Construction Sector Council’s (CSC) most recent forecast of labour supply and demand.
Moderate growth in non-residential construction increases employment over the near term driven by engineering, industrial, commercial and institutional activity. Work is underway or proposed on several major projects that will raise employment between 2012 and 2014. As these projects wind down, however, employment returns to current levels. The CSC’s report, Construction Looking Forward, 2012 to 2020 Key Highlights for Nova Scotia, says the province’s construction labour force will decline by about 400 workers as overall activity slows across the outlook scenario from 2012 to 2020. But industry continues to face the pressures of an aging workforce. The CSC estimates that industry will need to replace more than 6,000 workers that are expected to retire over the next decade.
Industry must also prepare for the potential impact of the $25-billion federal shipbuilding contract awarded to the Halifax shipyards, and this may alter the labour market outlook for construction trades. While few details are yet available, several of the key trades in high demand for the shipbuilding contract are construction-related trades.
“The new projects combined with competition from outside the industry and province, as well as ongoing retirements is driving stakeholders to invest more in recruitment and training,” says Duncan Williams, president of the Construction Association of Nova Scotia. “We’re focusing our efforts on a variety of labour sources, including youth, women, other industries and immigrants.”
While there are employment opportunities in some markets, the job prospects in road, bridge and new residential construction are expected to be weak across the outlook scenario.
“Managing worker mobility will be key to meeting labour requirements,” says Allan Stapleton, president of the Nova Scotia Construction Labour Relations Association “Over the next few years, there will be opportunities for mobility between sectors of construction, and between provinces, as workers shift to where their skills are needed.”
The forecast report highlights the potential for workers on new residential projects shifting to renovations, residential workers seeking jobs on non-residential projects, and construction workers moving into and back from shipbuilding.
Each year, the CSC releases nine-year scenario-based labour forecasts following consultations with industry leaders, including owners, contractors and labour groups, as well as governments and educational institutions.
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.