BuildForce Canada: Mobility key to Canadian labour forecast

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According to BuildForce Canada’s February 2014 report, Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward, mobilizing the country’s construction workers will be essential for filling labour gaps left by retirees.

The study predicts the retiring workforce will increase replacement demands to 235,000 between 2014 and 2013, and that the industry will only attract 167,000 first-time entrants to the workforce during the same time period, leaving 132,000 spaces to be filled by talent from other countries and industries.

Mobility“The mobility issue has become more critical. There are several major projects going on at one time in the country. Understanding where those projects are taking place, when workers will be available and where they’ll be available is becoming more critical,” said BuildForce Canada executive director Rosemary Sparks.

The report predicted resource projects in the west will drive labour requirements in the near future, while oilsands and other major resource projects in Alberta and British Columbia will fuel a second cycle. Lastly, the report indicates a third labour cycle will come as a result of LNG plant installations in B.C. and an increase in non-residential construction activity in Ontario’s GTA.

To accommodate these cycles, Sparks says employers will need to adapt a mix of mobility initiatives, from short and long term plans, fly-in and fly-out movements, and other solutions. “It’s really trying to understand each of these provinces and regions and how their construction activity is playing out when it’s going to be in peak and what will be the potential to release workers who could be going to other areas to work. It’s really trying to fit the pieces together across the country.”

Canadian Construction Association president Michael Atkinson agrees, noting the industry must also do its part to enhance worker mobility through programs such as Red Seal and others that seek to harmonize apprenticeship programs. “It is one thing to encourage the mobility of journeypersons, but there is also a significant and well-intended move afoot to try and harmonize apprenticeship systems so that mobility doesn’t become a challenge there.”

Read the full story at Daily Commercial News

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