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Demand for construction workers, key trades apprentices continues to climb


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August 2, 2019

By Jillian Morgan

The number of unfilled jobs in Canada’s construction sector outpaced all other industries and the national average in the first four quarter of 2019, according to a recent report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.

Coast to coast, 435,000 private sector jobs sat vacant during the first four months of the year, up 0.1 percentage points from the previous quarter. Across all sectors, the national vacancy rate reached 3.3 per cent — well below that of the construction sector, which topped out at 4.9 per cent.

“The national vacancy rate has been steadily climbing for the past two years and it reached another record high last quarter,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “The rate of growth is slowing compared to this time last year, but employers in Quebec, BC and Ontario are having a harder and harder time finding workers, especially in the smallest businesses.”

The Help Wanted report, released June 12, paints yet another unfavourable picture of the tightening labour market in construction.

In January, research organization BuildForce Canada forecast the industry would need to enlist more than 300,000 workers over the next decade to combat lagging recruitment and the impending retirement of some 261,000 workers.

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s 2019 labour report expects some 67,000 journeypersons will be required over the next five years to keep workforce certification levels afloat for key trades in the majority of Canadian provinces.

To meet that demand, Canada’s 10 largest Red Seal trades — excluding Quebec and the territories — will need to attract 167,793 apprentices.

From 2019 to 2023, more than 4,000 journeyperson plumbers and 2,718 journeyperson steamfitters will need to be recruited. The organization determined the industry would therefore need to attract 9,602 plumber apprentices and 4,872 steamfitter apprentices.

Though employment growth for the skilled trades is poised to slow, decreasing demand for construction electricians and plumbers, new recruits will be needed to offset an aging workforce and accelerating retirement rates, CAF-FCA found.

The organized pointed to a decline in new apprentices since 2014, fewer youth entering the trades and the potential erosion of training capacity as other key challenges in the years ahead.

CAF-FCA expects 164,100 apprentices to register in the top 10 Red Seal trades over the next five years. That figure is down nine per cent compared to the previous five years. Across all trades, the demand for skilled workers is strongest in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. www.cfib-fcei.ca www.caf-fca.org


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