Workforce development

The federal government has an ambitious growth plan – one that includes repairing, maintaining and retrofitting aging infrastructure while also building for future climate resilience. But even the best laid plans can be derailed without the workers we need to keep us on track.

While every province and sector of the Canadian economy is reeling from historically high job vacancy rates, the situation is even more acute for the construction sector already dealing with decades of chronic challenges in recruiting qualified workers. The federal government is no stranger to the skilled labour shortage our industry is facing. Construction employs 1.5 million people, and our industry will need to fill hundreds of thousands of jobs by 2028 brought on by shifting demographics and a spate of retirements.

Our industry is currently struggling to fill indispensable jobs nationwide that are essential to build the infrastructure needed to support Canada’s future growth and economic prosperity. This means that crucial projects – schools, hospitals, power generation, roads and bridges – may be delayed or cancelled.

It’s a matter of perception

For decades, kids have been steered away from the trades and encouraged to pursue a “profession.” Construction is often seen as a “blue-collar” job with low pay and limited opportunity. This is simply not the case.

The industry is working on changing this perception. 

Talent Fits Here is a national public awareness campaign to inspire a new generation of workers to join the industry. 

We are also actively seeking out immigrants and temporary foreign workers as a way to alleviate retirements and an ongoing skills shortage that will result in over 300,000 jobs needing to be filled by 2028. It is these individuals who will help drive diversity, inclusion, creativity, and innovation to the sector. 

The impacts of this issue are intensifying as demand for construction grows. The value of monthly building permits reached its highest recorded level yet. With the current demand for non-residential construction, BuildForce Canada forecasts that the industry will need to add over 113,000 workers by 2027. The industry requires engineers, project managers, project coordinators, skilled trades, and construction labourers.

Labour shortages mixed with record-low levels of unemployment indicate the supply of workers is insufficient to fill current vacancies and meet construction demands. Not only do we have to repair, maintain, and retrofit infrastructure built in the 60s; we also must build for the future – keeping in mind climate resilience, innovation, and economic growth. To prosper and achieve our climate change objectives, the construction industry requires an equal partner in government to grow the labour force.