The Labour Market Information (LMI) Program, which has been producing forecast scenarios since 2005, uses the most advanced and detailed industry model available in Canada to produce a forecast scenario that reflects the future demand and supply of construction labour requirements in this country. It is based on models and approaches pioneered by the Construction Owners Association of Alberta and the Commission de la construction du Quebec.
Using up-to-date information for 18 regional markets in all Canadian provinces and territories, and taking into consideration such factors as the economic environment facing the construction industry and the residential and non-residential construction investment outlook, the BuildForce Canada forecast scenario system identifies:
- the amount of work being performed by those employed in the construction industry
- how the construction workforce adapts to changes in demand in general and to major projects that have a significant impact on the labour market
- tight labour markets
- trade and occupation challenges and areas where new labour will be required
This and other information is used annually to generate national, provincial and territorial Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward reports that help industry, training providers, governments and other decision makers plan for labour force requirements and training.
The reports answer three key questions about Canada’s construction industry:
- What trades and occupations are required to meet the needs of the construction industry?
- How many workers are needed?
- Where can these workers be found?
The answers, and other information generated by the LMI Program, help increase the efficiency of the construction labour market over the long term by maintaining an experienced workforce, attracting experienced workers back to the industry, adjusting the flow of new apprentices to meet industry needs, and recruiting qualified new workers by offering more stable employment. With this knowledge in hand, construction industry stakeholders can confidently invest in new construction knowing that Canada has the workforce necessary to deliver projects on time and on budget.
The methodology used by BuildForce Canada to provide forecast scenarios for the construction-related trades and occupations uses models of the economy and the demand for trades and occupations. The trade/occupation demand models use the outputs of the economic models, namely, investment and employment forecasts, and translate construction investment into employment.
BuildForce Canada provides forecast scenarios of the demand for trades and occupations by all sectors of the economy, including the construction industry and other industries that employ the trades. In the construction industry, the focus of analysis includes trades and occupations for all of the work undertaken by the construction industry. In addition to major projects, the work also includes that for smaller announced and unannounced projects, as well as for maintenance and repair construction activities.
The system separates the demand for the trades and occupations among the types of construction activities to reflect the differing requirements across various types of construction activities:
- residential (new, renovations, maintenance)
- non-residential buildings (industrial, commercial, institutional)
- non-residential engineering (roads, highways and bridges, heavy industrial and other engineering)
- non-residential maintenance
More specifically, the LMI forecast system links employment in each trade and occupation to spending by specific building types. Each link is defined by a measure of labour required for each million dollars of building (coefficient). Labour demand is the result of increased economic activity and retirements. The first source of job openings, referred to as expansion demand, relates to the new jobs created when the economy grows. A second source of job openings results when workers leave, usually due to retirement. The latter is called replacement demand.
While information on major projects assists with the preparation of the economic forecast scenarios, they far from cover the entire amount of investment in an economy. It is still necessary to provide forecasts for major projects that are not announced, smaller projects, and maintenance and repair expenditures. The economic models produce such forecasts while incorporating the major project information that is available.
On the supply side, the LMI forecast system tracks labour force, apprenticeship and mobility for more than 30 selected trades and occupations. Estimates are based on the Statistics Canada 2011 National Household Survey, as well as input from the industry. The number of first-time workforce entrants aged 30 and younger, the flows of apprentices coming out every year, recent immigrants, and people re-entering the job market after a period of non-participation is estimated.