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Major projects stretch BC's construction workforce

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LNG Industry,

The ramp-up of major projects starting next year, from planned pipeline to transportation and LNG, may create significant recruitment challenges, with as many as 16 000 new workers needed over the next three years, according to the latest labour market forecast released by BuildForce Canada.

"This may be the largest surge in engineering construction in recent memory, and it's happening at a time when many skilled trades are already in short supply," said Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. "BC's construction workforce will need to expand by up to 23% by 2021 to meet project requirements. That takes careful planning."

BuildForce Canada's 2018 - 2027 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows that while the pace of construction growth is expected to moderate slightly in British Columbia this year, major expansion will start in 2019 and 2020, driven by a diverse group of gas, pipeline, utility, civil, and public transportation projects. The sheer volume of these projects is significant if they proceed as planned. As projects approach completion between 2022 and 2025, employment will decline, but stay above current levels. It's anticipated that commercial and institutional building construction will continue to grow, while the pace of residential construction may recede, starting this year through to 2024, as many large condo projects near completion. Gains in non-residential construction will help to offset job losses in residential construction, returning total employment to current levels.

BuildForce Canada's forecast also shows:

  • New-housing-related employment is expected to decline by 23 700 jobs, returning to more traditional levels following a 5 year expansion that increased employment by 50%.
  • It is anticipated that a decline in new home construction will be offset by as many as 8 450 new jobs (23% increase) in the residential renovation and maintenance markets.
  • More than 8000 workers should be released as major projects wind down after 2021, with some absorbed by rising maintenance work.

"The retirement of well over 40 000 workers, or approximately 22% of the construction workforce this decade will add to recruitment challenges," said Ferreira. "Tradespeople with specialised skills and experience will be in demand for major projects, especially in remote regions."

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