Construction industry will boom in Northern Ontario, GTA: report

A report on the labour market in Northern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) says that these two areas will see increased construction activity over the next few years. The construction industry may need to recruit as many as 40,000 workers from outside the province to meet skilled labour requirements.

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Over the next eight years, 75,000 workers will retire from the construction industry, and only 55,000 will replace them, according to a report from the Construction Employers Coordinating Council of Ontario.

The main driver of construction in the GTA will be nuclear power plant refurbishment, transmission and other utilities work, and transportation projects.

In the north, a resource development boom that includes a number of major mining and infrastructure projects are already underway and more that are being proposed, will drive demand for skilled workers up by 65 per cent, the report says.

Other regions of the province—Central Ontario, Eastern Ontario and Southwestern Ontario—will experience different patterns of activity. Little change is forecast for Eastern Ontario, while the Southwest will see “stop-go-stop” activity, with highway work, the Windsor Bridge and certain utility projects creating “volatility” for the construction business. Central Ontario will see “shallow expansion.”

“Each region has distinct patterns of construction activity,” says David Brisbin, Executive Director of the Construction Employers Coordinating Council of Ontario. “A lot depends on the location, timing and scale of mining, utility and infrastructure projects… Next to finding enough workers for those projects, the challenge will be moving these specialized and experienced trades to the big projects at the right time.”

According to the report, approximately 75,000 workers will retire from the labour market between now and 2021, with just 55,000 new entrants replacing them. The shortfall will create challenges for the construction industry, the report says, especially as other, competing sectors will be facing a similar demographic challenge.

Recruitment strategies will have to include targeting all potential sources of workers, according to Patrick Dillon, Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario. youth, women, Aboriginal people and immigrants.

“With a large proportion of today’s workforce heading into retirement, successful recruitment strategies aimed at youth, women, Aboriginal people and immigrants are key to replacing them,” Dillon said.

The housing industry, a mainstay of the construction industry, has slowed in 2013 but is expected to turn up “slightly” in 2016, though still below record high levels of 2007.

However, the report says, recruiting and training initiatives remain important to ensure the skilled workforce is available to meet current and future needs.

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