Non-residential construction growth in Saskatchewan has been leading the country and other industries over the past decade, and that is not about to change — at least for the next couple of years.
The latest forecast of labour supply and demand released by the Construction Sector Council says several large projects now underway and proposed in mining, electrical utilities, pipelines and other industries will keep the industry booming until 2015. At this peak in 2015, construction employment will be more than 60 percent above historical levels.
But similar projects around the same time in other provinces create a competing demand for key trades, according to Construction Looking Forward, Saskatchewan 2013–2021. These include boilermakers, carpenters, contractors and supervisors, crane operators, insulators, ironworkers, sheet metal workers, steamfitters and pipefitters, and welders.
Construction Looking Forward also notes that several major mining projects are currently under review that could increase labour demand later in the forecast period. Otherwise, demand will decrease after 2015 but will still remain at record high levels.
“Saskatchewan is part of the growing centres of resource construction across Canada. Based on the known projects, we see a peak in 2015, but it is also anticipated that resource development opportunities will continue later in the scenario period,” says Doug Folk, acting president of the Saskatchewan Construction Association.
“This, combined with the estimated retirements of 7,200 skilled workers between now and 2021, and the potential draw of tradespeople to work in other parts of the country may create challenges to maintain and replace the workforce to meet future demand,” Folk adds.
“Industry leaders plan to keep apprenticeship training front and centre, and work on recruitment strategies to attract youth, women, Aboriginal people, and immigrants,” says Terry Parker, Business Manager, Saskatchewan Provincial Building & Construction Trades Council.
The report notes that general economic conditions and population growth has raised both housing starts and overall residential investment to more than twice the levels that prevailed at the start of the last decade.
“Housing-related employment is expected to hold at current levels through 2015,” says Alan Thomarat, President and CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Saskatchewan.
“Recruitment and training initiatives to ensure we sustain the necessary capacity to deliver a skilled workforce remain a high priority to meet ongoing housing needs and to address the expected retirements of existing skilled workers,” Thomarat adds.
Each year, the CSC releases nine-year labour forecast scenarios following consultations with industry leaders, including owners, contractors and labour groups, as well as governments and educational institutions. The full national and regional reports will be available online at www.constructionforecasts.ca/products.