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New workers needed to meet peak labour requirements

March 16, 2011

REGINA − A new forecast scenario for Saskatchewan’s construction industry says a rising demand for potash, oil refinery expansion and a recovery in the housing market are behind the province’s current construction growth, and that demand for labour will peak next year.

“With a strong and growing economy, Saskatchewan continues to be a major attraction for skilled labour,” says Michael Fougere, President of the Saskatchewan Construction Association. “Electricians, estimators, millwrights, boilermakers, heavy equipment operators, and a host of other skilled trades will continue to be in hot demand”.

The Construction Sector Council’s new report, Construction Looking Forward: An assessment of construction labour markets for Saskatchewan from 2011−2019, says demand for potash is behind new mining projects that more than double industrial and engineering investment from 2010 to 2012. Oil refinery expansion and renewable energy projects will also contribute to the demand for a third more non-residential construction workers, while housing expansion is expected to boost employment by 25% in the residential sector.

"The demands in the residential construction industry are escalating in both the new home and renovation sectors," says Alan Thomarat, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Saskatchewan. "It is critical to the future of Saskatchewan that appropriate and abundant housing is available to satisfy the growing population and communities. As such all stakeholders must continue to support and build the necessary capacity to train and deliver a professional and skilled workforce," adds Thomarat who also serves as the Chair of the Board for the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST).

The report says that though projects wind down between 2013 and 2016, and demand for workers eases, housing leads a recovery with modest growth in commercial and institutional building to stabilize markets by 2018.

Over the forecast scenario period, estimates indicate there will be almost the same number of new workforce entrants coming into the construction workforce (6,600) as there are retirements (6,300), but this conceals the market pressures as current projects approach peak labour demand. Construction will need about 7,000 new workers to meet demand between 2011 and 2013.

“Continued investment in training and apprenticeships, and promoting the industry to youth, Aboriginal people, women, and immigrants are priorities for our industry,” says Terry Parker, Business Manager, Saskatchewan Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council.”

Each year, the CSC compiles nine-year labour forecast scenarios for each province following consultations with industry leaders, including owners, contractors and labour groups, 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. Forecast data is also available at www.constructionforecasts.ca. They allow for instant access to residential and non-residential construction investment data, as well as details on the supply and demand for more than 30 skilled trades over the next nine years – all broken down by province and region.

The CSC is a national industry-led organization committed to the development of a highly skilled workforce that will support the future needs of Canada’s construction industry. It is funded by the Government of Canada's Sector Council Program.


Michael Fougere
Saskatchewan Construction Association
(306) 525-0171

Rosemary Sparks
Construction Sector Council
(905) 852-9186