Replenishing Canada’s Workforce: Skilled Labour Concerns In Construction
Employment Opportunities Canada’s construction industry is undergoing the most dramatic demographic shift ever. Thousands of baby boomers are retiring and opening up all kinds of career possibilities for the next generation.
Construction is one of Canada’s leading industries, employing well over one million Canadians, or one in 14 workers. Since 1996, the industry has hired 600,000 new workers. That’s an employment growth rate of 86 percent.
At the same time the construction industry is growing, it is also experiencing the most dramatic demographic shift in its history. Close to one-quarter of Canada’s construction and maintenance workforce are estimated to retire over the next decade. With the exodus of 250,000 baby boomers, across more than 30 trades and occupations, employers are under pressure to counter the loss of a generation’s worth of skill and experience.
That makes the timing ideal to start a career in construction. Not only are skilled tradespeople in high demand, construction offers other clear advantages, including plenty of variety and a salary above the national average.
“There are great opportunities for skilled young people in construction,” said Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “As the industry grows, it’s also becoming more specialized, requiring people with a lot of different backgrounds, from technical to math and science.”
“Young people who are looking for rewarding and challenging work will find it in construction.”
Apprenticeship training opens the door to all kinds of career options in Canada’s construction industry, from tradespeople to managers and supervisors in homebuilding to resource development.
Job opportunities across the nation
Many new jobs in construction are in the GTA and Southwestern Ontario, where construction employment is expected to rise by 6 percent over the decade. That growth is driven by some of Canada’s largest infrastructure projects, including the “Big Move” and proposed refurbishment of the Darlington and Bruce Power nuclear facilities.
In B.C., where residential building, commercial and engineering projects are ramping up, there are more construction career openings than anywhere else in Canada. Over the next decade, the construction industry in that province will need to hire 39,000 workers to replace retiring baby boomers.
John Tomes, a 68-year-old Superintendent of Manpower with McCain Electric Ltd. in Winnipeg, is among that huge demographic that’s planning retirement. Tomes started working as an electrician when he was 17, and says it was a great career choice back then, and still is now.
“My advice to the next generation is that if you work hard, you can make a great life and living in the skilled trades. It’s a good feeling to be able to pass along some of what I’ve learned and experienced.”
To make the construction career search a little easier, BuildForce Canada offers youth and parent-friendly information about more than 50 different construction trades and occupations at its Careers in Construction website.
“Young people who are looking for rewarding and challenging work, will find it in construction,” added Sparks. “The industry is actively recruiting the next generation with the skills and talent to lead it through this period of change and growth.”