OTTAWA — In its latest workforce report, BuildForce Canada projects that overall hiring requirements in the industry are expected to approach 172,000 due to the retirement of approximately 156,000 workers, amounting to 13 per cent of the current labour force, and growth in worker demand of nearly 16,000.

Factoring in projections for new entrants that will leave a possible retirement-recruitment gap of 13,000 workers, the industry may be short by 29,000 workers by 2027 – a more manageable number than seen in previous 10-year forecasts.

“It’s going to be an ongoing challenge, particularly as we start to see more and more individuals retiring from the industry,” said BuildForce executive director Bill Ferreira.

“And the demand pressures on the industry are going to be huge because it’s not just construction that is facing a demographic crunch. Any industry that relies on skilled trade workers is looking at the same sort of demographic challenge.”

But the industry and public policy-makers have responded, Ferreira commented.

“As a result, we are starting to see a reversal of some of these trends, particularly on the non-residential side and some provinces across the country.

“The sector has been dealing with it admirably.”

Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario, suggested the positive signs on trades recruitment is the result of a combination of initiatives from groups across the sector.

“I think it’s great to see that our efforts are bearing fruit, that we are having some success, but I think it’s also incumbent on all of us to keep that going,” he said. “There are some demographics where people will be retiring in large numbers. So we have to make sure that this continues because it takes a long time to train a skilled tradesperson.

“So great news, but let’s keep going and not fall back.”

Ferreira and Howcroft identified the fast-growing Indigenous population as well as new Canadians as cohorts where there could be significant new workers recruited.

In 2021, approximately 63,700 Indigenous people were employed in Canada’s construction sector, or nine per cent of all Indigenous people in the workforce. The national construction labour force is comprised of approximately 20 per cent new Canadians, which is lower than the overall share of new Canadians in the total labour force (26 per cent).