Ontario’s Construction Workforce Becoming Harder to Build

January 18, 2016
Rising Retirements Create Recruitment Challenges

Ontario – New housing and major infrastructure projects will drive Ontario’s construction job growth to 2019, putting the industry under pressure to build the workforce as retirements rise and the pool of applicants gets smaller, according to the latest labour market forecast released today by BuildForce Canada.

“As population growth slows and a smaller pool of youth enters the workforce, adding new workers may become progressively more difficult,” said Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “With more than 21 percent of the workforce retiring in the next 10 years, it’s a race against the clock to offset the loss of that much experience.”

BuildForce Canada’s 2016‒2025 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast shows the strongest job growth from 2016 to 2019, with new job opportunities spread across most markets and regions. Construction employment peaks in 2019, marking a 25-year expansion that has doubled the size of the workforce. Opportunities shift across the province between big infrastructure projects, industrial work, commercial building activity and a rising cycle in new housing from 2016 to 2018.

“Job growth is the strongest in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Southwestern Ontario,” added Sparks. “From now to 2019, specialized trades are in demand as new housing, infrastructure and major engineering projects ramp up.”

Forecast highlights include the following:

  • Rising retirements will create the need to replace more than 85,000 new workers over the next decade.
  • New housing job opportunities shift across the scenario period with the addition of 22,000 jobs from 2016 to 2019, followed by job losses. The growth in renovation work creates 2,000 jobs across the period.
  • Non-residential construction rises fairly consistently, while major engineering and civil projects create short-term hiring fluctuations. Employment grows by 7,600 workers across the period.

BuildForce Canada’s forecast, by region:

Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

  • Hiring will focus on specialized trades for some of Ontario’s largest and ongoing engineering projects in transit and nuclear refurbishment. Commercial construction, home renovation and maintenance are steady employment growth areas.

Central Ontario

  • High levels of employment are sustained with cyclical job gains and losses less pronounced than in other regions.

Eastern Ontario

  • Over the past few years, Eastern Ontario construction markets have lagged behind other regions.  A limited number of institutional and engineering projects boost employment early in the scenario period.  As projects end and government restraint continues, however, employment recedes back to current 2015 levels.

Northern Ontario

  • Employment is expected to rise as major gold mine and potential new resource developments start, and then end after 2019 and 2020. Renewed growth raises residential investment, housing starts and employment, however much depends on the timing of proposed resource development projects which could be hampered by weak commodity prices and global demands

Southwest Ontario

  • Employment recovers with a revival in housing starts, major bridge construction, nuclear power plant refurbishment and other utilities work. There are modest employment gains in industrial activity.

BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization that represents all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. Its mandate is to provide accurate and timely labour market data and analysis, as well as programs and initiatives to help manage workforce requirements and build the capacity and the capability of Canada’s construction and maintenance workforce. Visit: www.constructionforecasts.ca

For further information, contact: Rosemary Sparks, Executive Director, BuildForce Canada, sparks@buildforce.ca or (905)-852-9186

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program