Home » Manitoba’s big construction labour market expansion to be followed by a slight contraction to 2028

Manitoba’s big construction labour market expansion to be followed by a slight contraction to 2028

January 31, 2019

Ottawa — Construction employment nearly doubled in Manitoba between 2002 and 2017. Following a pause in 2018, the labour force will peak in 2019 and fall modestly to 39,500 workers by 2028 – a decline of 1,900 workers from current levels, according to the labour market forecast released today by BuildForce Canada.

Construction employment in 2019 will be driven by an increase in concurrent major projects, including ongoing work on Manitoba Hydro’s Keeyask Generating Station, Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement, several commercial office projects, a number of food processing facilities, and major transportation and other infrastructure projects.

BuildForce Canada’s 2019–2028 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward provincial forecast report predicts a moderate slowdown in 2020, as declines in new housing construction, the completion of major hydro-related projects, and reduced investment in road and highway infrastructure projects contribute to lower levels of construction activity.

Most of the employment declines will occur over the next three years. The non-residential sector accounts for 60% of construction employment in Manitoba, and engineering construction remains the dominant driver of labour demands. The anticipated reduction in engineering investment should translate into lower levels of employment from 2019 to 2021.

“The overall declines in the labour force should be modest relative to the scale of significant expansion we’ve seen over the past decade that has been driven by major hydro-related projects, infrastructure investments, and immigration-driven population growth,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada.

New housing construction is expected to continue to decline through 2019 and 2020, but stabilize thereafter. Renovation activity is projected to grow at 2% annually to 2028.

Approaching 2028, employment levels are projected to return to a period of moderate growth. Industrial building construction is projected to continue to lead growth after 2021, driven by a continued expansion in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

About 8,000 workers — one in five members of the current labour force — are projected to retire by 2028. About 6,100 additional workers will need to be recruited to balance the shortfall.

“While the overall population is aging, Manitoba’s population still skews younger than other provinces,” says Ferreira. “Enough workers under 30 years of age should be available locally to meet anticipated future provincial construction demands.”

While the recruitment prospects in Manitoba are better than in other provinces, the industry must guard against complacency. The development of skilled tradespersons in the construction industry takes years, and often requires participation in a provincial apprenticeship program. Over the past five years, more than 9,000 apprentices registered in the province’s 15 largest construction programs, with 4,500 completions registered during that period. An ongoing commitment to training and apprenticeship development will be necessary to ensure there are sufficient numbers of qualified tradespeople to sustain a skilled workforce over the long term.

Building a sustainable labour force will also require the construction and maintenance industry to increase recruitment from groups traditionally underrepresented in the current construction labour force, including women, Indigenous Canadians, and new Canadians.

In 2018, women employed in Manitoba represented 47% of the province’s total labour force. In the province’s construction and maintenance industry, however, women represented just 12% of the industry’s labour force and accounted for only 2.9% of workers employed in direct on-site project construction. Similarly, the participation of Indigenous Canadians could also be increased, which as a group, currently account for 16% of the total provincial construction labour force. Increasing the participation rate of both these groups would go a long way to helping the industry address its future labour force needs.

Manitoba’s construction workforce is made up of approximately 15% new Canadians. Over the coming decade, the province is expected to welcome an average of 14,650 newcomers every year, making the immigrant population an important future source of potential workers for the province’s construction and maintenance industry.

BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization that represents all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. Its mandate is to provide accurate and timely labour market data and analysis, as well as programs and initiatives to help manage labour force requirements and build the capacity and the capability of Canada’s construction and maintenance industry. Visit www.constructionforecasts.ca.

For further information, contact Bill Ferreira, Executive Director, BuildForce Canada, at ferreira@buildforce.ca or 613-569-5552 ext. 222.

This report was produced with the support and input of a variety of provincial construction and maintenance industry stakeholders. For local industry reaction to this latest BuildForce Canada report, please contact:

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.