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Retirements and resource boom test Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction industry

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February 19, 2014 by Staff Report

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, according to BuildForce Canada.

The 2014-2023 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast released today by BuildForce Canada 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, or 6,000 workers, with the vast majority hired for resource projects. Construction employment reaches a record high in 2013 and 2014, before these projects wind down and many workers move on to jobs in other provinces. 

“That’s what the construction industry really has to prepare for,” said Rosemary Sparks, executive director of BuildForce Canada. “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.”

BuildForce Canada’s forecast also shows: 

• Housing starts increased by almost 75 per cent from 2006 to 2012, with residential employment rising by 35 per cent during this period.
• Housing starts slow over the medium term and then remain at approximately 2,600 starts annually. Renovation work rises moderately, partially offsetting the decline in new residential. The residential sector may face skilled labour challenges, driven by an aging workforce and the potential for workers to be drawn to major resource projects.
• 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,” added Sparks. “Recruitment plans will need to be continually adjusted and tailored for each trade and occupation, to counter worker mobility and rising retirements.”

SOURCE BuildForce Canada

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