Owners band together to keep building

Some of Canada’s largest construction owners are making a coordinated effort to address the critical need for a skilled workforce.

“We saw in that period leading up to 2008 how a shortage of skilled labour could negatively impact our work, delay projects and increase costs. And, we saw how little any one company or organization could do about it,” says Steve Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Suncor Energy Inc., one of a dozen owners who helped to develop a national owners strategy.

“As construction owners, we decided to band together and commit to working with contractors, labour groups, government, educators and trainers to address these workforce challenges,” he says.

The goal of the strategy is to keep Canada’s economic recovery on track, keep its workers working and create new opportunities for youth and those who are underrepresented in the construction industry, including women and Aboriginal people.

Ed Martin, CEO of Nalcor Energy says, “We are committed to focusing on educating youth about potential career paths within the skilled trades and the potential career paths within the industry. This requires a commitment by owners, contractors and governments to support apprentices during upswings as well as downturns in the economy.”

“This plan recognizes that many stakeholders have a role to play, but we must move forward as quickly as possible and avoid duplication of effort,” adds David Podmore, Chairman and CEO of Concert Properties, a developer of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

The owners strategy is in response to the CSC’s Construction Looking Forward forecast, which estimates a need for more than 300,000 new workers – approximately 25 percent of the construction industry’s current workforce – by 2019.

You can view and/or download the strategy, entitled Meeting Construction and Maintenance Workforce Challenges: Construction Owners Strategy 2011 to 2016, on the CSC’s Construction Forecasts website at www.constructionforecasts.ca.

Note: Quotes in this article were taken from the June 29, 2011, owners’ press release.

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