Second Smaller Wave of Construction Job Losses Forecast for Alberta | BuildForce Canada

Second Smaller Wave of Construction Job Losses Forecast for Alberta

Alberta’s construction industry is projected to lose up to 11,000 jobs over the coming year as several large projects reach completion and low oil prices continue to limit new investment and growth, according to the latest labour market forecast released today by BuildForce Canada.

“While a staggered recovery is expected to start next year, it won’t lift all sectors of construction until about 2024,”said Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “It’s a complex transition period for industry that needs to ensure it has a skilled workforce trained and ready as the economy turns around.”

BuildForce Canada’s 2017-2026 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows that the pace of overall job losses will ease in 2017. However, the slumping oil and gas sector and the completion of major projects will drive non-residential construction employment still lower by 2018. Commercial and industrial building is expected to decline this year and next. Road, highway and bridge activity slows, with job losses only partially offset by infrastructure stimulus funding. The rise in shutdown/turnaround work results in periodic recruitment challenges for specialized trades, while continuing growth in sustaining and maintenance work becomes an important source of employment. As the economy improves, new housing construction picks up starting in 2018, with ICI building following suit. Recovery in oil sands and other engineering-related work likely won’t begin until  later in the forecast period. Although more moderate job growth is expected over the long term, unemployment rates will remain above average this decade compared to the last.

BuildForce Canada’s forecast also shows:

  • A recovery in new housing activity projected in 2018 and 2019, which adds back 10,000 jobs. By 2026, residential employment is above 2016 levels by 10 percent;
  • A further loss of 9,300 oil sands construction jobs through to 2023 with recovery not expected until the following year;
  • The need to replace over 36,000 workers who are retiring this decade.

“The challenge for Alberta’s construction industry goes far beyond the economy,” added Sparks. “It has to prepare for the retirement of almost 19 percent of its skilled workforce within ten years. That means staying focused on recruitment and training even during a slow growth period.”

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 workforce requirements and build the capacity and the capability of Canada’s construction and maintenance workforce. Visit:

For further information, contact: Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director, BuildForce Canada, or (905)-852-9186

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program