Alberta’s construction recovery will be modest through 2027, with employment sustained by demographics

Via GlobeNewswire

OTTAWA, March 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Alberta’s construction market showed signs of a long-awaited recovery in 2021, thanks to a strong rise in residential-sector investment and increased major-project requirements. That growth and increasing heavy-industrial maintenance requirements should lead to an even stronger pace in 2022, before moderating through 2027.

BuildForce Canada released its 2022–2027 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward report for Alberta today. The report focuses on a six-year horizon for provincial labour market data as opposed to the 10 years studied in previous reports. The shortened forecast period allows the report to focus more clearly on short- and long-term demand and supply pressures impacting the province’s construction sector.

“Alberta’s construction market is emerging from a challenging period that saw a downward trend in employment carry through from 2015 to 2021,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “Our scenario forecast for the province anticipates overall construction employment to strengthen further in 2022, driven by an increase in both residential and non-residential demands. Demands weaken temporarily in 2023 as many current major projects wind down and new housing slows, but modest growth should continue over the remainder of the forecast period.”

Construction employment in Alberta is expected to rise by about 2,400 workers, or 1.4% of the 2021 labour force, by 2027.

In the near term, Alberta employers may face recruiting challenges. The contraction of the province’s construction market in recent years led many workers to leave the industry or look for work outside of the province. Those losses deepened in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting instability in the oil and gas markets. Labour force declines were most pronounced among the core working-age group of those 25 to 55 years of age. While some of those workers are expected to re-enter the labour force as the economy re-opens, the loss of experienced workers, should they be slow to return or decide to retire, could have a lasting impact.

BuildForce Canada expects that Alberta’s construction industry will need to replace an estimated 22,650 workers, or 12% of the current labour force, who are expected to retire by 2027. The province, however, is well positioned to close any resulting employment gaps, given that approximately 23,000 new workers under the age of 30 are projected to enter the labour force from the local population.

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