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Workforce mobility key to meeting Atlantic construction needs

July 21, 2010

A new forecast of labour supply and demand in construction has industry leaders in Canada’s Atlantic provinces preparing for labour market shifts complicated by limited workforce growth. But the report says that despite volatility in specific sectors, employment levels in 2018 will be similar to what they are today.

The Construction Sector Council’s (CSC) new nine-year forecast for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador breaks down labour requirements by trade and province, and includes a summary of major projects.

“Our challenge is to have a steady supply of skilled workers available when and where they are needed,” says George Gritziotis, Executive Director of the Construction Sector Council. “To do that, our industry needs to keep promotion and recruitment on the front burner at all times, and encourage mobility within the region.”

The forecast says the industry will see a slight decline in total construction employment estimated at almost 1,500 by the end of the outlook scenario in 2018. Demographics, however, will have a significant impact in Atlantic Canada as the more than 17,000 workers are expected to be lost to retirements and mortality between 2010 and 2018. These will be partially offset by first-time new entrants to the labour force estimated at 11,500, but these will not be sufficient to meet the replacement needs. Industry will need to turn its attention to recruiting workers from other provinces, industries or countries to meet labour requirements.

The complete report for Atlantic Canada is available online at www.csc-ca.org and it includes the following provincial highlights:

  • In New Brunswick, the 2009 recession passed with limited job losses in construction thanks to new housing and ongoing industrial, commercial and institutional projects that kept employment levels relatively high over the past few years. But as these projects end, the stage is set for a downturn in activity that lasts until about 2013. After that, housing and some engineering projects will lead a mild recovery, but employment will be below recent record-high levels at the end of the scenario period.
  • In Nova Scotia, momentum in institutional, utilities and infrastructure work combined to generate construction jobs and avoid the worst impacts of the global recession. With no planned major projects scheduled, employment growth slows as current projects end. Employment levels at the end of the outlook scenario remain close to current levels.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador, by contrast, will experience a downturn in housing construction, though big industrial and utility/resource projects begin to hire and drive a construction cycle to peak demands starting in 2013. Non-residential employment increases by more than 60 percent from 2011 to 2013 for many trades as it rises to peak demand in 2014. After that, employment returns to current levels.
  • Similarly, commercial and industrial projects in Prince Edward Island add jobs, and in 2015, there is a jump in utility-related work.

The CSC compiles reports for each province following consultations with industry leaders, as well as governments and educational institutions. The national and regional scenario-based forecasts are released annually and are available online at www.csc-ca.org. In addition, all scenario-based forecast data is available at www.constructionforecasts.ca.

The Construction Sector Council is Canada’s most reliable source for labour market forecasting and commentary. The CSC is a national industry organization funded by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program. The CSC is committed to maintaining and developing a highly skilled workforce – one that will support the future needs of the construction industry in Canada.

For more information, contact:
Rosemary Sparks
Senior Director of Planning and Development
Construction Sector Council
(613) 569-5552