New Alberta construction forecast says training key to future growth | BuildForce Canada

New Alberta construction forecast says training key to future growth

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

More Information:
Herb Holmes
Construction Labour Relations – Alberta
(780) 451-5444

Rosemary Sparks
Construction Sector Council
(613) 569-5552