The next nine years will see steady growth for construction in Ontario. From mining in the North (Ring of Fire) to nuclear power, transportation and other infrastructure projects in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario will be challenged to meet its skilled labour requirements. This increased level of construction activity will come at a time when Ontario will also be feeling the impact of the aging baby boomers.
A new forecast of labour supply and demand, published by the Construction Sector Council (CSC), says construction has been a leading industry for more than 20 years, and while the dynamics will vary by region, employment continues to grow across the outlook scenario.
Employment gains are strongest in the Northern region and in the Greater Toronto Area. The medium/longer term attention is on the Ring of Fire group of mining and infrastructure projects in Northwestern Ontario while, in the Sudbury area and Northeastern Ontario, there are several mining and related infrastructure projects underway now or scheduled to start over the next few years. The mineral deposits represent the long-term potential for continued mining development in Northern Ontario.
In the GTA, electrical utility investments in nuclear facilities will have a major impact on the demand for key trades and occupations as work ramps up after 2014. These requirements combine with institutional projects, such as construction for the Pan American Games, transportation and other infrastructure projects, to create employment opportunities across the outlook scenario.
Construction Looking Forward, 2012 to 2020 Key Highlights for Ontario, estimates steady employment growth with both residential and non-residential sectors contributing to growth. The construction labour force is estimated to rise by 43,000 workers to meet the demand associated with increased construction activity. In addition, industry will need to replace 77,000 workers that are expected to retire over the next decade. To address expansion and replacement demand requirements, industry will need to recruit an estimated 120,000 new workers to construction.
“There are several major projects proposed in Ontario that will create employment opportunities for youth, Aboriginal people, women and new comers to Canada. The training systems are in place in Ontario to train that future workforce. Providing enough skilled workers is a high priority at a time when an aging construction workforce and resulting retirements will potentially reduce our labour availability,” says Pat Dillon, business manager of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.
“Industry must maintain the necessary support systems to recruit, train and retain construction workers across the scenario. This support is essential to meet the challenges to replace skilled workers as they retire,” he adds.
The construction outlook for Ontario describes challenges with different paces of expansion across sectors and regions.
“The impact of shifting patterns of construction employment will depend on the timing of the many proposed electric utilities, infrastructure and transportation projects. Starting up and ramping down these projects will draw and release skilled trades and occupations working across the regions,” says David Brisbin, executive director of the Construction Employers Coordinating Council of Ontario. “Our challenge will be to monitor current and proposed projects to ensure we can match the local labour force to emerging demand requirements.”