Canadian Contractor

By Canadian Contractor staff   

BuildForce Canada releases outlook report on east coast construction labour force

Canadian Contractor Trades & Hiring

April 25, 2023 – BuildForce Canada released a series of reports called 2023-2032 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward, which analyzed new data about the labour market forecast in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia.

Prince Edward Island

BuildForce’s labour forecast “anticipates that market pressures will peak in 2023 before contracting almost continuously across the remainder of the forecast period. By the end of the decade, employment is expected to contract by six per cent over 2022 levels, with residential employment declining by just under two per cent and non-residential employment by just below 10 per cent,” states a news release.

Data shows that the province will need to recruit nearly 1,600 additional workers through 2032 “to replace the 22 per cent of its retiring 2022 labour force.”

This data does not take into account the federal government’s goal to double housing across Canada.

In 2022, P.E.I saw approximately 900 women employed in the construction industry. Forty-three per cent worked on-site and 57 per cent worked off site. Women account for six per cent of tradespeople employed in P.E.I.

Indigenous tradespeople made up about three per cent of the province’s construction labour force in 2021. It is higher than the share of Indigenous workers in the overall labour force.

In 2021, new immigrants to Canada accounted for over six per cent of the total construction labour force in P.E.I.

New Brunswick

BuildForce’s labour data anticipates New Brunswick’s construction employment will “rise to a short-term peak in 2023, before moderating to 2026 and cycling back up to a peak in 2027 that is largely sustained through the remainder of the forecast period,” states a news release.

BuildForce reports that New Brunswick’s labour force will need to increase by 2,000 workers across the decade to sustain its labour force. The anticipated retirement of its 2022 labour force will equate to 27 per cent, and will increase overall hiring requirements to 8,500 tradespeople.

“New Brunswick has seen significant fluctuations in registration levels in its 16 largest trade programs over recent years. New registrations declined by approximately seven per cent from 2010 to 2019, while trade employment declined at a slightly faster pace of 12 per cent over the same period,” states a news release. Based on these findings, several trades may be at risk of undersupply of tradespeople by 2032. These trades include; bricklayer, boilermaker, carpenter, sprinkler system installer, and welder.

In 2022, there were about 2,800 women employed in the province’s construction industry. Thiry per cent worked on-site and of the 21,500 tradespeople employed in the provincial industry, women made up about three per cent.

Indigenous tradespeople accounted for approximately three per cent of the province’s construction labour force.

New immigrants accounted for three per cent of New Brunswick’s labour force in 2021, which is less than half of the share in the overall workforce.

Newfoundland and Labrador

BuildForce data found the Newfoundland and Labrador are ” in the midst of a period of growth. Continued increases in new-housing, institutional, and engineering construction sectors drove employment higher in both the residential and non-residential sectors in 2022. Slower rates of growth in the province’s construction labour force contributed to unemployment levels as low as 10 per cent during the summer months,” states a news release.

It is estimated that 5,700 workers from its 2022 labour force are expected to retire between 2023 and 2032. Over that same period, the province is anticipated to recruit 3,400 new tradespeople, aged 30 or younger.

Prior to COVID-19, new registrations in the 11 largest construction trade programs were declining. “Following this trend, completions were also trending down leading into 2020 at a slower pace.” This decline in registration and training cold lead to an insufficient number of newly certified tradespeople in the following trades; construction electrician, ironworker, mobile crane operations, welder, and pipefitting.

In 2022, there were approximately 1,780 women employed in the province’s construction industry, an increase of nearly 300 over 2021 levels. Sixty per cent worked on site, while the remaining 40 per cent worked off site. Of the 15,200 tradespeople employed in the industry, women made up seven per cent of the total workforce.

Indigenous trades people accounted for nine per cent of the construction labour workforce in 2021.

As of 2021, immigrants make up two per cent of the province’s construction workforce.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is anticipated to see an overall growth in construction employment by three per cent from 2022 to 2032.

BuildForce Canada’s market outlook estimates that 24 per cent of the province’s current labour force will retire by 2032. Over the same period, the industry will need to recruit at least 10,900 new tradespeople, aged 30 or younger.

Apprenticeship registrations in Nova Scotia’s 20 largest trade programs have been on an upward curve over the past decade. However, due to the increased demand of construction throughout the province, several trades may be at risk of underemployment at the current pace of new apprenticeship completion. These trades include: bricklayer, carpenter, construction electrician, heavy equipment technician, millwright, gas fitter, mobile crane operator, roofer, pipefitter and welder.

In 2022, 4,150 women were employed in the province’s construction workforce. Twenty-six per cent worked on-site.

Indigenous tradespeople accounted for five per cent of the labour force.

With files from BuildForce Canada

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