By BuildForce Canada
Manitoba’s construction outlook calls for moderate growth, with employment demands likely met by a younger demographicCanadian Contractor Trades & Hiring
May 4, 2023 – After enjoying a strong year in 2021, Manitoba’s construction and maintenance industry experienced more moderate activity in 2022, as further work on a number of infrastructure projects offset most of the contractions created by the winding down of activity on the Keeyask dam project. Total employment was virtually unchanged as a result.
BuildForce Canada released its 2023–2032 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward report for Manitoba. The outlook calls for a moderate contraction in employment across the forecast period, as a contraction of just below three per cent in the residential sector more than offsets a slight increase of just below one per cent in the non-residential sector. These numbers are based on existing known demands and do not take into account the federal government’s goal to double the number of new homes built across Canada over the next 10 years, nor the anticipated increase in demand for construction services related to the retrofit of existing residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings to accommodate the electrification of the economy.
Across the forecast period, slowing demand for new-housing construction should be offset by almost continuous growth in demand for residential renovation and maintenance work. Meanwhile, the non-residential sector should see moderate, but sustained employment growth between 2025 and 2030 as a series of projects cycle up and down.
BuildForce Canada expects that approximately 7,600 workers, or nearly 19 per cent of its 2022 labour force, will retire by 2032. At the same time, the industry is expected to attract an estimated 8,700 new workers under the age of 30 from the local population. This trend shows that industry efforts to boost recruitment to meet future needs are working, and that the industry should be able to meet its anticipated labour force demands throughout the forecast period.
Based on projected new registrations and completion trends, however, several Manitoba trades may be at risk of potentially undersupplying the number of new journeypersons required by 2032. Trades within this group include Bricklayer, Carpenter, Mobile Crane Operator, Roofer, and Welder.
“The construction industry is working collaboratively to build a more diverse and inclusive labour force. To that end, efforts are ongoing to enhance the recruitment of youth, individuals from equity-deserving groups traditionally under-represented in the construction sector, and from outside the country through permanent immigration,” said Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada.
In 2022, there were approximately 5,930 women employed in Manitoba’s construction industry. Of them, only 26% worked directly in on-site construction. Women represented just four per cent of the 38,600 tradespeople employed in Manitoba’s industry in 2022. All figures are virtually unchanged from 2021.
The Indigenous population is another under-represented group that presents recruitment opportunities for Manitoba’s construction industry. In 2021, Indigenous workers accounted for approximately 17 per cent of the province’s construction labour force. That figure was the highest among all provincial labour forces and is notably higher than the share of Indigenous People represented in the overall labour force (13 per cent).
The construction industry is also committed to the recruitment of newcomers to Canada. Based on historical settlement trends, Manitoba is expected to welcome an average of just over 11,000 newcomers every year through 2032, making the immigrant population a key potential source of labour force growth. Currently, newcomers and more established immigrants make up about 15 per cent of the province’s construction workforce. This figure is notably lower than the share in the overall provincial labour force.