After enjoying a strong year in 2021, Manitoba’s construction and maintenance industry experienced more moderate activity in 2022, as further work on a number of infrastructure projects offset most of the contractions created by the winding down of activity on the Keeyask dam project. Total employment was virtually unchanged as a result.
BuildForce Canada released its 2023–2032 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward report for Manitoba today. The outlook calls for a moderate contraction in employment across the forecast period (-1%), as a contraction of just below 3% in the residential sector more than offsets a slight increase of just below 1% in the non-residential sector. These numbers are based on existing known demands and do not take into account the federal government’s goal to double the number of new homes built across Canada over the next 10 years, nor the anticipated increase in demand for construction services related to the retrofit of existing residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings to accommodate the electrification of the economy.
Across the forecast period, slowing demand for new-housing construction should be offset by almost continuous growth in demand for residential renovation and maintenance work. Meanwhile, the non-residential sector should see moderate, but sustained employment growth between 2025 and 2030 as a series of projects cycle up and down.
“Construction activity in Manitoba should remain at a relatively constant and elevated level across the 10-year forecast period,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “That’s a positive sign for the industry, as it means labour markets should remain balanced across most of the forecast years. It also means that the industry should be able to satisfy its hiring requirements, given the province’s comparatively younger demographic.”
BuildForce Canada expects that approximately 7,600 workers, or nearly 19% of its 2022 labour force, will retire by 2032. At the same time, the industry is expected to attract an estimated 8,700 new workers under the age of 30 from the local population. This trend shows that industry efforts to boost recruitment to meet future needs are working, and that the industry should be able to meet its anticipated labour force demands throughout the forecast period.
“The development of skilled tradespersons in the construction industry takes years, and most often requires participation in a provincial apprenticeship program,” said Ramona Coey, Executive Director of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Manitoba. “After years of declines, it was encouraging to see industry efforts to promote careers in the trades bearing some fruit as evidenced by the recent upswing in new registrations in Manitoba’s 17 largest trade programs. It is important this momentum is not lost as we work to fill the labour shortage experienced in several key trades.”
Based on projected new registrations and completion trends, however, several Manitoba trades may be at risk of potentially undersupplying the number of new journeypersons required by 2032. Trades within this group include Bricklayer, Carpenter, Mobile Crane Operator, Roofer, and Welder.
“The construction industry is working collaboratively to build a more diverse and inclusive labour force. To that end, efforts are ongoing to enhance the recruitment of youth, individuals from equity-deserving groups traditionally under-represented in the construction sector, and from outside the country through permanent immigration,” said Paul de Jong, President of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada.
In 2022, there were approximately 5,930 women employed in Manitoba’s construction industry. Of them, only 26% worked directly in on-site construction. Women represented just 4% of the 38,600 tradespeople employed in Manitoba’s industry in 2022. All figures are virtually unchanged from 2021.
The Indigenous population is another under-represented group that presents recruitment opportunities for Manitoba’s construction industry. In 2021, Indigenous workers accounted for approximately 17% of the province’s construction labour force. That figure was the highest among all provincial labour forces and is notably higher than the share of Indigenous People represented in the overall labour force (13%). As the Indigenous population is the fastest growing in Canada and Indigenous workers seem predisposed to the pursuit of careers within the sector, there may be scope to further increase the recruitment of Indigenous People into the province’s construction industry.
The construction industry is also committed to the recruitment of newcomers to Canada. Based on historical settlement trends, Manitoba is expected to welcome an average of just over 11,000 newcomers every year through 2032, making the immigrant population a key potential source of labour force growth. Currently, newcomers and more established immigrants make up about 15% of the province’s construction workforce. This figure is notably lower than the share in the overall provincial labour force.
“To avoid chronic labour force shortages, increasing the participation rate of women, Indigenous People, and new Canadians will be imperative to help Manitoba’s construction industry meet its future labour force needs,” said Darryl Harrison, Director of Stakeholder Engagement with the Winnipeg Construction Association.
BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization that represents all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. Its mandate is to support the labour market development needs of the construction and maintenance industry. As part of these activities, BuildForce works with key industry stakeholders, including contractors, proponents of construction, labour providers, governments, and training providers to identify both demand and supply trends that will impact labour force capacity in the sector, and supports the career searches of job seekers wanting to work in the industry. BuildForce also leads programs and initiatives that support workforce upskilling, workforce productivity improvements, improvements to training modalities, human resource tools to support the adoption of industry best practices, as well as other value-added initiatives focused on supporting the industry’s labour force development needs. Visit www.buildforce.ca.
For further information, contact Bill Ferreira, Executive Director, BuildForce Canada, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-569-5552 ext. 2220.
This report was produced with the support and input of a variety of provincial construction and maintenance industry stakeholders. For local industry reaction to this latest BuildForce Canada report, please contact:
Mechanical Contractors Association of Manitoba
Paul de Jong
Progressive Contractors Association of Canada (PCA)
Director, Stakeholder Engagement
Winnipeg Construction Association
204-755-8664 ext. 2249
Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.