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New Alberta construction forecast says training key to future growth

May 18, 2006

EDMONTON – Industry leaders agree, following the release today of a new labour requirements forecast, that the path to continued growth for Alberta’s construction industry lies in the right skills training. The forecast says that tight labour conditions and the shortage of some skilled trades will continue until at least 2008.

Published by the Construction Sector Council (CSC) and its partners, the 2006-2014 forecast says tight conditions are also likely to remain later in the period as older workers retire and fewer workers are recruited from out-of-province.

Construction Looking Forward – Labour Requirements from 2006 to 2014 for Alberta “is a timely tool that allows us to act today to avert problems tomorrow -- whether that means new human resource policies, innovative recruiting methods, or more training in certain areas,” says Neil Tidsbury, President of the Construction Labour Relations – Alberta, and a member of the CSC Board of Directors.

“One of our first challenges is to train and upgrade our domestic workforce in the skills needed to meet upcoming demand,” he says.

The forecast is published annually by the CSC and is based on a model developed by the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA).

Lynn Zeidler, Vice President of Horizon Construction Management Ltd. working on Canadian Natural’s – Horizon Oil Sands Project, and Past President of COAA, points to the huge increase in oil sands investment combined with the aging workforce as the main reasons for the tight labour market. “New jobs are being created for almost 12,000 workers between 2006 and 2009 alone, she says. Apprenticeship training and skills upgrading will be in hot demand.” The Horizon Project is building an on-site Skills Development Centre.

According to the forecast, Alberta will have to replace an estimated 16% of its construction workforce over the forecast period, or almost 17,000 people, to maintain 2004 workforce levels.

Grant Ainsley, an Executive Officer with the Alberta Home Builders’ Association says “Construction Looking Forward puts the industry ahead of the planning curve, by providing details of the broader economic environment, investments, retirements, and training, and their impact on labour requirements. We know we have worker shortages, so it's important to not only look for ways to fill the gaps, but also to determine how many workers we'll need in the future. This work is part of the puzzle to solve labour shortages in our industry.”

The forecast was produced by the CSC working with the Construction Workforce Development Forecasting Committee – a sub-committee of COAA – labour groups, and government. Construction Looking Forward reports are being released over the next few weeks in all provinces, and the new reality of the threat to economic growth, posed by fewer workers and more work, is a common theme throughout.

The Construction Sector Council was established in 2001 as an independent labour/business partnership to address the workforce needs of the construction industry. The CSC is a neutral forum that brings together stakeholders to provide data that industry can use to make critical planning decisions. CSC provides this data to industry who undertake their own analysis. Funding for this project was provided by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program. The report is available on the CSC website at www.ccs-ca.org.

More Information:
Herb Holmes
Construction Labour Relations – Alberta
(780) 451-5444
herb@clra.org

Rosemary Sparks
Construction Sector Council
(613) 569-5552
sparks@csc-ca.org

First-ever website offers real-time info on construction careers across Canada

December 14, 2005

OTTAWA – An industry-developed website about careers in construction has already drawn thousands of visitors, mostly youth and educators looking to find out what the work is like and where the jobs are.

The new site is aimed at providing students and counselors with information on construction careers, with the goal of attracting a new labour pool to the construction industry to meet replacement demand brought on by a retiring workforce.

“It’s the first site in Canada to offer coast to coast information about real career prospects in construction,” says Rosemary Sparks, Director of Projects at the Construction Sector Council, which built www.careersinconstruction.ca with direction from employer and labour groups, and the support of the education community, and governments.

The new career portal is the first to offer real-time information about job prospects in every Canadian province. “If a student in British Columbia, for example, wants to find out about career opportunities at home or across Canada over the next few years, the information is at their fingertips,” says Sparks.

www.careersinconstruction.ca also features job descriptions, virtual tours of construction sites, video clips and interviews with workers on the job, and information on education and training requirements.

“Where the jobs are, what the work is like, how to choose a career path, enter an apprenticeship program, earn while you learn – it’s all there,” she says. “And if it isn’t, there are more than 600 links to other resources.”

Funding for this project was provided by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program. It is one of several CSC initiatives related to the supply of labour in the construction industry in Canada.

The CSC is a not–for–profit, independent labour/business partnership organization established in 2001, to address the current and future human resource needs of the industry.

More Information:
Rosemary Sparks
Director of Projects
613-569-5552
sparks@csc-ca.org

Opportunities for Aboriginal workers in the Construction Industry: Study

November 30, 2005

OTTAWA – With more than 62,000 construction workers retiring within the next 10 years, a new study points to a major opportunity for Aboriginal youth.

That’s according to A Study of Aboriginal Participation in the Construction Industry commissioned by the Construction Sector Council (CSC) and the Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada (AHRDCC) as part of an effort to increase Aboriginal participation in the construction workforce.

The report is the first to examine in depth what is working and what is not when it comes to linking Aboriginal youth to construction employment.

“Aboriginal youth were identified in earlier CSC research as an important untapped labour source for the industry,” says CSC Executive Director George Gritziotis, “and now this study is telling us that there are lots of opportunities to connect them with construction work. It’s a perfect fit, and one we intend to ensure is mutually beneficial.”

“There’s a big need to need to replenish the construction workforce in the years ahead, and opening the doors of a vital industry to Aboriginal youth is good for Canada,” he says.

Kelly Lendsay, President and CEO of the AHRDCC, says “Aboriginal workers are ready to move through those doors and this report is a giant step in the right direction.”

“This research provides both supply and demand side organizations with the knowledge and information needed to help create meaningful training and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people. Based on the projected construction job growth, 7464 Aboriginal construction workers will be needed in the next 10 years.”

The report provides an overview of services and infrastructures now in place and recommends how they can be improved upon. For example, it calls for an expanded role for key players, such as Aboriginal communities and delivery organizations, which play a lead role in recruitment, as well as education and training centres, governments, labour groups and employers.

It also calls on the two sector councils to expand on their successful partnership, by continuing to work together on initiatives such as the ironworker Aboriginal career awareness project, which is linking Aboriginal people with careers in ironworker.

Funding for A Study of Aboriginal Participation in the Construction Workforce was provided by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program. It is one of several studies commissioned by the CSC on issues related to the supply of labour in the construction industry.

For more information:

Rosemary Sparks
Director of Projects, CSC
(905) 852-9186
sparks@csc-ca.org

Sandra Stevens
Manager, AHRDCC National Trades Project
(306) 956-5360
Sandra.stevens@ahrdcc.com

New study could help build crucial labour source: mobile construction workers

November 1, 2005

OTTAWA – The financial and social costs associated with working away from home are shackling an important source of labour in Canada’s construction industry, according to new report published by the Construction Sector Council (CSC).

“Mobile workers are generally a dissatisfied group,” says Bob Blakely, CSC labour co-chair and director of Canadian Affairs for the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, “and the construction industry, particularly the industrial sector, could suffer because of it.”

Working Mobile: A Study of Labour Mobility in Canada’s Industrial Construction Sector sheds light on why it is increasingly difficult to attract workers who are willing to follow the work from region to region.

“As the construction industry seeks ways to address the increasing demand for workers on large projects in remote locations,” says Blakely, “the results of this research provide timely and valuable insights that could help to sustain and build upon this crucial labour source.”

Brad Anderson, of the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) says “the study takes on increasing importance in light of the construction forecasts, compiled earlier this year by the CSC, which indicate that in many provinces tight markets for some trades mean employers and contractors will need to recruit out of the local market.” COAA played a significant role in the development of the Alberta forecast report.

According to the study, the typical mobile worker “is married, with at least two dependents under the age of 18 years, and his working mobile has a net-negative impact on his marriage and family.”

Significant personal expenses either on the job or at home while workers are away is cited as a major potential barrier to working mobile. The report also notes that mobile workers “have significant negative self-esteem and concern about he social status of the skilled trades vis à vis the communities in which they work mobile and in respect of other lines of work.”

The self-esteem of mobile workers is influenced by the attitudes of those in the communities where they work: “….They believe themselves to provide the necessary skill and commitment to build the infrastructure of the nation. But they find they are not regarded with respect by their fellow tradespersons (for whom local work is always preferable). They observe lack of parity with other blue-collar industries (such as truckers and mechanics, who are provided preferential tax consideration by the government). And they find industry leaders tend to treat them as replaceable commodities. Most would not recommend the life to their children.”

Working Mobile is the first study in Canada to look at why workers move to find work and the obstacles to their doing so, as well as the career path of mobile construction workers, including their movements between sectors of the industry and provinces and territories. The research was conducted through on-site surveys and focus groups, and is part of a series of research reports on issues related to the supply of labour in the Canadian construction industry.

Funding for this project was provided by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.

The CSC is a not–for–profit, independent labour/business partnership organization established in 2001, to address the current and future human resource needs of the construction industry in Canada.
For more information on these and other CSC programs:
Michelle Walsh
Manager, Communications
Construction Sector Council
walsh@csc-ca.org
Tel: (613) 569-5552, ext. 230
Fax: (613) 569-1220

Foreign-trained workers “fall through cracks”: new study

October 24, 2005

OTTAWA – Canadian construction companies could be missing out on a huge pool of skilled labour because of an inconsistent, informal method of assessing foreign-trained worker credentials, says a new study published this fall by the Construction Sector Council (CSC).

A Study of Assessment and Recognition of Foreign-Trained Worker Credentials in the Construction Industry finds that foreign-trained workers are at a disadvantage because of language barriers, insufficient documentation, and lack of knowledge about Canadian health and safety regulations, building codes, and other workplace requirements.

“Many foreign-trained workers are falling through the cracks when it comes to skill assessment,” says CSC Executive Director George Gritziotis, “and that translates into a loss of qualified labour at a time when some regions and sectors of the industry need it more than ever.”

The research also concludes that “…the process is not systematic and difficult to navigate. Apprenticeship officers use judgement and experience to assess foreign-trained workers. No books of international equivalencies are available to them. A multitude of players is involved, policies are contradictory, and there appears to be no strong industry involvement.”

For example, Gritziotis notes that “the credentials of a tradesperson from South East Asia are assessed in the same way as the one who just came through the apprenticeship system here. The Asian man could be very skilled at his trade, but if his English is poor, or he doesn’t have the right documents, he will not likely get the job.”

“This study adds to the body of knowledge we need to address this increasingly important issue. With demographics, retirements and attrition, a good understanding of how these credentials are dealt with allows us to work toward making better use of a key labour source.”

The CSC commissioned the study to gain a better understanding of how foreign credentials are assessed and recognized in the construction industry, in related trades, and in other countries.

It includes 65 interviews with representatives from apprenticeship offices, government, owners, contractors, contractor associations, labour groups, credential recognition agencies, educational institutions, and immigrant-serving agencies.

The report recommends how to improve the process in a way that allows industry to make full use of the productive potential of the workforce, and Canadian immigrants to make full use of their skills and experience. It calls for integrating foreign-trained workers through a system that complements their skills, education, and experience, while meeting the needs of the Canadian economy.

“The responsibility for acting on the recommendations falls to the industry – employers and labour groups – in partnership with apprenticeship offices,” says Gritziotis, noting that the CSC is now in discussion with directors of apprenticeship and other key stakeholders, in an effort to address some of the barriers to foreign-trained worker integration.

As part of its labour market information program, the Construction Sector Council is conducting research on issues related to the supply of labour in the Canadian construction industry.

Funding for this project was provided by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.

The CSC is a not–for–profit, independent labour/business partnership organization established in 2001, to address the current and future human resource needs of the construction industry in Canada.

For more information on these and other CSC programs:
Michelle Walsh
Manager, Communications
Construction Sector Council
walsh@csc-ca.org
Tel: (613) 569-5552, ext. 230
Fax: (613) 569-1220

Construction industry welcomes long-awaited tool to project labour requirements

June 21, 2005

OTTAWA – A first-of-its-kind forecasting model released today by the Construction Sector Council (CSC) indicates a growing need for a mobile workforce able to move between provinces, industries and sectors to keep pace with the increased demand for skilled trades.

The model creates an assessment of demand for 38 trades and occupations in every province, from 2005 to 2013.

“This industry has long needed a sophisticated economic forecasting tool like this to help us with the why, where and when of on-time, on-budget project planning,” says Tim Flood, CSC business co-chair and president of John Flood and Sons Ltd. “These projections are an excellent starting point for analysis that can be refined with updated information -- a new sharp tool for the risk management tool box.”

Working with the CSC and senior economists, the model was developed with input from owners, contractors, labour groups and government representatives from all provinces, and from all sectors of the industry who have brought unique and relevant information to the table. The result is a national summary and 10 provincial “Construction Looking Forward” reports for use by industry stakeholders.

“These forecasts will go a long way to ensure the continued growth of a major, multi-billion dollar industry that is a barometer for Canada’s economy,” says Bob Blakely CSC labour co-chair and director of Canadian Affairs for the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

“They will help guide human resource planning and policy, training curriculums, career planning, and more,” he adds.

“Bringing together such a large network of stakeholders with key information like major projects, workers’ age demographics, and available training is a groundbreaking initiative for the construction industry. This type of detailed forecasting would not have been possible without the significant contribution of more than 100 different construction industry partners.”

The national summary forecast was released today. It can be viewed at www.csc-ca.org. Next week, detailed projections will be delivered by the special Labour Market Information Committees set up in each province by the CSC. Annual releases are planned.

Funding for this project was provided by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.

The CSC is a not–for–profit, independent labour/business partnership organization established in 2001, to address the current and future human resource needs of the construction industry in Canada.

For more information on these and other CSC programs:
Michelle Walsh
Manager, Communications
Construction Sector Council
walsh@csc-ca.org
Tel: (613) 569-5552, ext. 230
Fax: (613) 569-1220 

Pipeline construction leaders embrace e-learning technology

October 18, 2004

OTTAWA – The launch of computer-based training for pipeline construction workers will improve worker mobility and safety, say industry leaders.

The Construction Sector Council’s Pipeline Construction Safety Training Course has generated widespread interest from pipeline owners, employers, contractors and labour groups because it uses leading-edge technology to meet interprovincial safety standards.

“This on-line, pan-Canadian safety training program will provide a valuable tool to enable workers and contractors to ensure that best practices and safety knowledge remain an integral part of pipeline construction industry practice,” says Ted Shipka, President and CEO of Pe Ben Industries Company Ltd., one of 80 pipeline construction industry representatives who attended a course preview in Calgary last week.

“Training new workers, on a national basis, will also provide a valuable tool to increase worker mobility, which will serve the interests of all industry stakeholders while contributing to the safe completion of projects,” he adds. “This type of training goes a long way to addressing those issues.”

Dermot Cain, the Canadian Director of the International Union of Operating Engineers says “this is leading-edge training that keeps pace with the needs of today’s active learner, allowing them to learn anytime, anywhere, within an interactive environment. It will help reduce workers’ exposure to health and safety risks, and provide a basic level of awareness for all facets of pipeline construction.”

The CSC worked with the pipeline construction industry to create the Pipeline Construction Safety Course. It will soon be available to workers and contractors across Canada at provincial construction safety associations, construction associations, labour organizations, industry training centres and community colleges.

This will be the first product to run off the CSC’s distance learning engine, a software application that allows organizations to create, store, use and re-use construction learning content in a cost-effective way. Management and supervisory training will also be available through distance learning in the near future.

Funding for this project was provided by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.

The CSC is a not-for-profit, independent labour/business partnership organization established in 2001, to address the current and future human resource needs of the construction industry in Canada.

It has several initiatives underway to help the industry deal with the skills and labour shortage including adopting a more systemic, national approach to training, and reaching out to youth through awareness and education about construction trades.

For more information on these and other CSC programs:

Michelle Walsh
Manager, Communications
Construction Sector Council
walsh@csc-ca.org
Tel: (613) 569-5552, ext. 230
Fax: (613) 569-1220

New research spurs construction industry to act on shortages

May 13, 2004

OTTAWA – New research from the Construction Sector Council (CSC) highlights the need to tap into new sources of labour and to address inconsistent training in the construction industry to deal with a shrinking workforce and skills shortages where they exist.

“With the results of four new studies, we now have a clearer picture of what we are up against and how to overcome what are some serious challenges for the construction industry and for the Canadian economy in general,” says Robert Blakely, CSC labour co-chair and the director of Canadian affairs for the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

“These reports are a wake-up call to the construction industry,” adds Tim Flood, the CSC business co-chair and the president of John Flood and Sons (1961) Ltd. “We must take steps now to reduce the risk of a chronic shortage of skilled workers, whether that means more targeted recruitment programs or working with educators and governments to standardize training, or some of the other options outlined in the reports.”

The research report entitled Future Labour Supplies in Canada’s Construction Industry, outlines the need for accessing largely untapped sources of labour including women, Aboriginals and immigrants, to address dwindling labour supplies caused by an aging workforce and a weak interest in construction careers among youth. The Aboriginal population, for example, is growing faster than other segments of Canadian society, with more than 50% under the age of 15.

The report on The Impact of Technology on the Construction Labour Market concludes that new technology is altering skill requirements for all construction trades, yet important training programs and skills upgrading are either not available or little-known.

A study on Training Canada’s Construction Workforce says the many different systems and standards that exist across the country inhibit worker mobility and cost effectiveness.

A fourth research paper, Emerging Trends in Management, Supervision and Mentoring, notes that managers and supervisors faced with higher quality-expectations, more safety regulations and the need for more documentation do not consistently get the support and training they need.

Funding for this project was provided by the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.

The CSC is a not–for–profit, independent labour/business partnership organization established in 2001, to address the current and future human resource needs of the construction industry in Canada.

It has several initiatives underway to help the industry deal with the skills and labour shortage including adopting a more systemic, national approach to training, and reaching out to youth through awareness and education about construction trades.

For more information on these and other CSC programs:

Michelle Walsh
Manager, Communications
Construction Sector Council
walsh@csc-ca.org
Tel: (613) 569-5552, ext. 230
Fax: (613) 569-1220

Construction management training goes on-line

April 6, 2004

OTTAWA – The Construction Sector Council (CSC) is poised to provide on-line training to construction management following the federal government’s approval of $663,000 in funding.

The CSC is working with the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) to move its national Gold-Seal Certification Program for Project Managers, Superintendents and Estimators into an e-learning environment.

“Computer-based distance learning has a strong future in construction training,” says the CCA’s Human Resources Director, Dennis Ryan, “and the Gold Seal e-learning initiative is a promising testimony to the collective will of this industry to move forward together to develop solutions aimed at promoting education, skills development and training to the Canadian construction workforce.”

“An on-line program that offers courses certified to the rigorous Gold Seal standard, and tailored to reflect provincial or territorial differences, is probably the single, most important way to increase the number of managers, supervisors and estimators, and allow them to take their skills across the country.”

The courses will be offered through the CSC’s distance learning service, which allows employer and labour groups, construction safety associations, education and training institutions, and many others to create and offer web-based, interactive education and training.

“The Gold Seal initiative is just the tip of the iceberg,” says CSC Executive Director George Gritziotis. “The CSC has already developed other material for on-line learning, such as pipeline construction safety training, and the concept is generating a lot of enthusiasm in the industry.”

Terry Brown, General Manager for Greyback Construction Ltd., and a member of the CSC Board of Directors, can vouch for that: “Distance learning technology is a revolution in construction training,” he says.

“It will go a long way to providing opportunities for the continual up-grading of construction manager's skills, and for life-long learning - in all regions of Canada - by making standardized training easily accessible,” says Brown, who is also the chair of the CCA’s Gold Seal Committee.

“By delivering high-quality industry courses through the Internet, we can bring the bricks and mortar to the user’s doorstep or, should I say, laptop.”

The Gold Seal e-learning project is one of many human resource initiatives being developed by the Construction Sector Council to address the current and future human resource needs of the construction industry in Canada. Funding for the project comes from the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program.

“The Government of Canada is very pleased to support the Construction Sector Council’s “E-Gold Seal” project, which will do much to improve the skills of Canada’s construction industry and improve worker mobility,” says the Honourable Joe Volpe, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. “The construction sector is vital to Canada’s economy, and this project will help ensure its continued success.”

The CSC is a not-for-profit, independent partnership organization established in 2001, made up of representatives from labour and business. The CCA represents the interests of the non-residential sector.

For more information on this and other CSC programs:
Michelle Walsh
Manager, Communications
Construction Sector Council
Tel: (613) 569-5552
Fax: (613) 569-1220
walsh@csc-ca.org

Construction Sector Council recruits Aboriginals to fill ironworker shortage

December 18, 2003

OTTAWA – The Construction Sector Council has launched a two-year initiative to address the shortage of skilled ironworkers in Canada and provides job opportunities for Aboriginal youth.

“It’s a win-win situation,” says Robert Blakely, one of the CSC co-chairs and Director of Canadian Affairs for the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. “The program addresses the expected shortage of skilled ironworkers while providing the opportunity for young Aboriginal men and women to learn a trade they can be proud of and where they earn a good wage.”

The CSC will work with the Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada to get the project underway. Funding is being provided by Human Resources Development Canada.

“It’s the right program at the right time,” says Roy Mussell, an Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada Board Member and Manager of the Sto:lo Nation Human Resources Development Council in British Columbia. “Aboriginal communities are the largest untapped labour pool in the country and historically, there has been a strong Aboriginal presence within the ironworker trade.

“The Aboriginal population is growing faster than any other segment of Canadian society with more than 50% under 15 years of age,” he adds. “By 2006 we will have a working population of 920,000, most in Western Canada. Yet school drop out rates are high and more than two-thirds of Aboriginal students leave school not literate. This is totally unacceptable.”

Among other things, the program will identify best practices to encourage Aboriginal youth to enter the ironworker trade. It will also provide a clearer picture of the career opportunities within the trade, as well as mentors and role models to foster pride in the profession.

Research shows that Canadians’ awareness of the construction trades in general is very low.

“This is largely due to the continuing societal focus on the university degree as a means of success and due to the inadequate promotion of apprenticeship and trades,” says Timothy Flood, the CSC’s business co-chair and President of John Flood & Sons (1961) Ltd.

“While many parents and youth are aware of the training, personal goals are influenced by popular careers such as high tech, computer related and the entertainment industry,” he says.

The ironworker Aboriginal awareness campaign is one of many human resource initiatives being developed by the Construction Sector Council to address the current and future human resource needs of the construction industry in Canada. The CSC is a not–for–profit, independent partnership organization established in 2001, made up of representatives from labour and business.

For more information on this and other CSC programs:
Michelle Walsh
Manager, Communications
Construction Sector Council
Tel: (613) 569-5552
Fax: (613) 569-1220
walsh@csc-ca.org 

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