On-Site Magazine

From the editor: Industry steps up

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April 1, 2013 by Corinne Lynds

On April 1, BuildForce Canada opened its doors, replacing the Construction Sector Council (CSC) after a decade of providing labour market forecasting to the construction industry.

Recognizing the importance of this type of forecasting, the construction community intervened.

“In the wake of the end of the federal government’s Sector Council Program, industry leaders have stepped up to the plate,” explained executive director Rosemary Sparks in a company release. “We have a new brand, a new board of directors, a new funding model and a new governance structure. But our mandate will continue to address the need for a skilled workforce in the construction industry.”

And there is clearly a need for this type of skills development.

On March 26, a forecast of labour, supply and demand was released by the CSC indicating that the construction industry will need to recruit more than 250,000 workers, including the traditional number of new entrants to the workforce to meet building needs from now until 2021.

According to the Construction Looking Forward, National Summary, 2013-2021, a significant portion of this need is to replace retiring workers.

So, what’s the new organization going to do about it?

“The products and services that have helped the industry thrive over the past decade, such as the annual labour market forecasts, will continue to be a priority,” says board member Mark Arnone, vice-president of refurbishment execution with Ontario Power Generation, noting that the Construction Looking Forward reports, which look ahead nine years, have been key in helping businesses across the country plan for, and manage workforce requirements.

The involvement of board members, such as Arnone, is a good example of how BuildForce is improving industry involvement. The addition of owners and client companies to the usual lineup of contractors, will add much needed perspective to the organization.

The new funding model has actual industry dollars behind it, as well as federal funding on a project-by-project basis. The plan is to go to the government for funding on special initiatives such as forecasting. BuildForce also plans to continue providing its current lineup of e-learning tools, and has plans in the works for new revenue generating tools.

This broader perspective, coupled with a new funding model bodes well for the future of construction labour market forecasting in Canada.