The construction labor shortage is a world-wide quandary – the Ontario construction market, led by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), is expected to retain its intensity through the coming decade, however, it is critical that new talent be recruited in order to meet demand.
BuildForce Canada recently released their 2019–2028 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward provincial report, which anticipates major growth in construction to rise through 2020, with the remainder of the decade seeing high levels of overall employment sustained by major nuclear refurbishment projects in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Southwestern Ontario, and continued investment in public transportation and infrastructure.
Consequently, keeping pace with increasing employment demands across most of the province’s regions will remain a challenge, and according to the forecast, 103,900 additional workers are needed to meet its future needs.
Non-residential construction continues on a steady upward trajectory, with investment expected to peak in 2020 and then plateau for three years, driven by several transportation industrial projects. Beyond 2020, investment is expected to decline modestly from the peak, though employment is anticipated to remain well above historical levels.
The most significant near-term growth is expected in Southwestern Ontario, where requirements related to nuclear refurbishment, the Gordie Howe International Bridge, and the construction of industrial buildings increase non-residential employment by 4,000 workers between 2018 and 2021 – an 18% increase over three years!
Sustaining capacity will be made more challenging by the expected retirement of 91,100 workers – one quarter of Ontario’s current construction labor force. Attracting new workers to the industry will be crucial to meet long-term needs. The industry can potentially draw 77,800 new entrants aged 30 and younger from the local population, but a projected gap of close to an additional 26,100 workers will need to be met from outside the province’s construction labor force.
Building a sustainable labor force will also require the construction industry to increase recruitment from groups traditionally underrepresented in the current construction labor force, including women, Indigenous Canadians, and new Canadians.
In the midst of a labor shortage, digital solutions can help shorten work cycles, reduce errors and speed completion of projects, helping to fully utilize workers to ensure maximum efficiency and productivity.
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