Newfoundland and Labrador: Further employment declines projected for Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction industry


Ottawa – Following the completion of major projects such as the Muskrat Falls generating station, construction employment requirements in Newfoundland and Labrador will trend downward over the coming decade in the absence of new and significant major projects, according to the labour market forecast released today by BuildForce Canada.

BuildForce Canada’s 2019–2028 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward provincial report forecasts in the short term, projects such as the West White Rose wellhead platform and Voisey’s Bay underground mine should help moderate declines. With no new major projects currently scheduled to follow, however, the provincial labour force could experience further significant declines across the 2019–2028 scenario period.

“The prospect for the $6.8-billion Bay du Nord deepwater oil development project continues to be a source of optimism for the industry,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “That project is not currently included in our outlook scenario, but a decision to proceed will still only help mitigate some of the projected employment declines.”

While non-residential investment levels have retreated with the wind down of major projects, they should remain above historical levels throughout the scenario period. Over the past 10 years, the province’s construction labour force increased substantially as investment levels in non-residential construction grew from $2.2 billion annually in 2010 to $7.7 billion in 2016. BuildForce projects levels will stabilize at just under $5 billion annually by 2028

Residential activity in the province is also expected to range lower, as an aging population contributes to a lowering of overall demand for new homes. Anticipated improvements in economic conditions are expected to help sustain renovation investment in 2019 through to 2028.

Over the coming decade, an estimated 5,800 workers – one quarter of the province’s construction labour force – are likely to retire, yet the industry is expected to draw into the labour force only 2,900 first-time entrants aged 30 and younger from the local population.

With competition for younger workers increasing, 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 represented just 11% of the province’s construction and maintenance industry labour force and accounted for only 4.0% of workers employed in direct on-site project construction. Women employed in Newfoundland and Labrador’s total labour force, however, represented 50%.

Similarly, Indigenous Canadians also represented a small percentage of the construction labour force, accounting for little more than 8% of the total. Increasing the participation rate of both these groups would go a long way to helping the industry address its future labour force needs.

Over the coming decade, Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to welcome an average of 950 newcomers every year, making the immigrant population an important future source of potential workers for the province’s construction and maintenance industry. Currently, the province’s construction workforce is made up of approximately 1% new Canadians.

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 5,700 apprentices registered in the province’s 15 largest construction programs, with 2,800 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.

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.

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