BuildForce Canada labour forecasts show increasing demand for skilled trades in Atlantic Canada


Atlantic Construction News staff writer

BuildForce Canada delivers comprehensive labour market forecasts for construction trades across Canada. Here is a summary of recently published reports for Atlantic Canada. Comprehensive reports are available at

New Brunswick construction industry must focus on rebuilding workforce

Planning for major new projects will be a top priority for New Brunswick’s construction industry, as retirements and out-of-province projects draw on the skilled labour pool, according to BuildForce Canada.

The 2014–2023 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows a moderate decline in construction employment over the next two years before the start of new major engineering projects create employment opportunities in 2016. Across the outlook scenario, industry faces the growing challenge of an aging workforce, with as many as 6,000 skilled tradespeople or 28 per cent of the current labour force expected to retire.

“Replacing retirees and building up the workforce is essential,” said BuildForce Canada executive director Rosemary Sparks. “The goal is to be ready when specialized workers are needed for pipeline, mining, and marine terminal projects starting in 2016.”

These projects may also involve recruiting New Brunswick’s skilled trades back from other provinces and/or hiring a temporary workforce from outside the province.

BuildForce Canada’s forecast also shows:

  • Residential employment declines in line with decreased new housing starts, with the decline partially offset by moderate growth in renovations work.
  • Proposed new major industrial and engineering projects translate into strong demand from 2016 to 2018 for a selected group of trades and occupations with specialized skills and experience.
  • Competition for skilled labour from resource projects in Western Canada, including current and new projects in Alberta and British Columbia over the near term, as well as immediate opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The challenge is convincing skilled workers to stay and others to come back when projects at home ramp up,” added Sparks. “That’s why now is the time to focus on recruitment, training and retaining a skilled labour force.”PEI’s local construction industry must convince skilled workers to stay

Keeping skilled workers at home will be a major priority for Prince Edward Island’s construction industry to help counter rising retirement rates, as retirement losses cannot be entirely offset by young people entering the workforce for the first time BuildForce Canada reports.

“With as many as 1,500 workers retiring over the next 10 years, attracting, training and retaining a skilled workforce is more important than ever for the local construction industry,” Sparks said. “It will take real planning to replace the rising number of retirees.

BuildForce Canada’s forecast also shows:

  • Labour requirements will rise with new investment in industrial and utility projects, and commercial and institutional building, helping to reduce unemployment rates to below average levels in 2015 and 2016.While total employment by the end of the outlook period is virtually unchanged from 2013, with labour requirements met by the local workforce, this trend makes no allowance for workers finding jobs outside the province.
  • A brief downturn in residential activity in 2014 is followed by increased activity over the medium term and brings investment back to current levels.

“The real challenge will be encouraging skilled workers to stay, and convincing others to return home when conditions improve in 2015,” added Sparks. “That’s when retirement pressures really set in and the province will need a larger skilled workforce to draw on.”

Retirements and resource boom test Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction industry

Labour requirements of large resource projects coupled with the retirement of almost 25 per cent of the province’s workforce over the next decade, create complex challenges for the construction industry, according to BuildForce Canada.

The 2014–2023 forecast shows the main challenge is recruiting for several large and remote resource and infrastructure projects. Between 2007 and 2012, provincial employment grew by 70 per cent, or 6,000 workers, with the vast majority hired for resource projects. Construction employment reaches a record high in 2013 and 2014, before these projects wind down and many workers move on to jobs in other provinces.

“That’s what the construction industry really has to prepare for,” Sparks said. “Some of these workers will need to stay for ongoing projects, capital and maintenance work, and to replace as many as 4,700 retirees over the next 10 years.”

BuildForce Canada’s forecast also shows:

  • Housing starts increased by almost 75 per cent from 2006 to 2012, with residential employment rising by 35 per cent during this period.
  • Housing starts slow over the medium term and then remain at approximately 2,600 starts annually. Renovation work rises moderately, partially offsetting the decline in new residential. The residential sector may face skilled labour challenges, driven by an aging workforce and the potential for workers to be drawn to major resource projects.
  • Commercial and institutional building is closely linked to the provincial economy with steady but moderate growth expected, while industrial and engineering construction rises and falls with investments in mining, electricity generation and transmission and offshore oil projects.
  • “Industry has worked hard to keep pace with changing demands,” Sparks said. “Recruitment plans will need to be continually adjusted and tailored for each trade and occupation, to counter worker mobility and rising retirements.”

Young recruits key to building Nova Scotia’s construction industry

With well over 6,000 workers retiring over the next decade, Nova Scotia’s construction industry will need to step up efforts to attract more young people, with  modest employment growth at the same time as the industry faces an increase in retirements and out-of-province resource projects, BuildForce Canada reports.

“Up to 25 per cent of the workforce will be retiring over the next decade, creating a real need for young, skilled workers,” says Sparks. “There is a lot of opportunity in construction, making it a great career choice for young people.”

  • Employment opportunities will shift to industrial and utility projects, with commercial, industrial and utility construction supporting current levels of employment. Modest job growth and equal gains and losses will balance activity in most years to 2023.
  • Employment remains unchanged in the residential sector, as a gain in residential renovation balances a moderate downturn in new housing.
  • Nova Scotia’s older than average workforce adds to the pace of retirement, with just over 6,600 workers retiring over the next 10 years across all 33 trades and occupations tracked.

“Projects in other provinces and industries, such as shipbuilding, also create skilled labour challenges for the construction industry,” added Sparks. “This is the new reality that makes recruiting, training and retaining a skilled construction workforce more important than ever.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.