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Alberta’s Construction Sector Must Plan Now

June 22, 2009

30,000 skilled trades’ workers will be needed in the economic upturn

Edmonton – Representatives from labour and industry are taking part in Alberta’s Construction Labour Market Symposium today to ensure that Alberta has the skilled labour force in place when the economy turns around.

“It’s crucial that we plan now for the economic upturn,” said George Gritziotis, Executive Director of the Construction Sector Council. “When big energy projects gear back up we have to make sure our skilled workforce is ready.”

Highlight’s of the Construction Sector Council’s annual report “Construction Looking Forward” for Alberta show construction employment in the province is on the decline after more than a decade of extraordinary growth.

Although a number of major manufacturing projects are planned or underway, including three ethanol production plants, employment losses will continue into 2011. These losses will shift from residential trades to the skilled non-residential workforce after the cancellation or postponement of several proposed oil industry projects.

When Alberta starts to come out of the recession in 2010, big energy projects are expected to come back on stream in 2013.

“Transportation and related projects will also pick up in the medium term,” said Ken Gibson, Executive Director of the Alberta Construction Association. “It means we have some breathing room now to plan for better times.”

Government investment is expected to increase rapidly in 2009 and 2010 as the fiscal stimulus package is spent on various public infrastructure projects from water, sewer and roads to hospitals and schools.

“Our challenge is to make sure that experienced trades’ people who left the industry and province in the downturn come back,” said Jay Westman, President and CEO of Jayman MasterBUILT. “We know that when the recession ends we’ll need these skilled trades’ workers.”

The forecast shows that employment in residential and non-residential trades will rise by 2015, exceeding 2008 employment levels. New housing investment and housing starts will rebound in the longer term reaching 32 thousand units in 2017.

The forecast also projects that as many as 22,000 construction workers are expected to retire from 2009 to 2017. Another 8,000 new workers will be needed to meet construction demand later in the forecast period as the economy strengthens and major oil sand investment increases starting in 2014.

“We’re confident that today’s symposium will help us put a regional plan in place to meet the need for skilled trades’ people regardless of economic cycles,” said Ron Harry, Executive Director of the Building Trades of Alberta. “Industry and government must meet the challenges of volatile markets by continually utilizing skilled trades people from all parts of Canada, replacing retirees and improving the skills of our construction workforce.”

The Construction Sector Council is Canada’s most reliable source for labour market forecasting and commentary. The CSC is a national organization committed to supporting the future needs of Canada’s construction industry through a highly skilled workforce.

The CSC’s “Construction Looking Forward” national and regional forecasts provide governments, colleges, labour and industry with accurate information on labour supply and demand to ensure Canada’s construction industry remains a leading sector in Canada’s economy.

Alberta’s Construction Looking Forward Scenario 2009-2010 will be available in the coming weeks along with a summary from the Alberta Labour Market Symposium and all forecast scenario data at www.constructionforecasts.ca

For Further Information Contact:

Rosemary Sparks
Construction Sector Council
(416) 271-2633

Scott Brownrigg
Sussex Strategy Group
(416) 277-8847