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Construction skilled-trades shortage
February 23, 2021

Construction industry fears a skilled-trades shortage

Like so many other sectors, the trades are not immune from the wave of baby boomers set to retire in the coming decade, adding urgency to the recruitment of younger and underrepresented people, those in construction say.

“By 2029, we will be short about 100,000 tradespeople if we don’t do anything,” says Kieran Hawe, chief operating officer of construction services company EllisDon Corp. The concern for the Mississauga-based company is that this could slow down projects and increase costs.

While the pandemic has resulted in a short-term slowdown and job losses for the construction industry, the long-term outlook will be largely affected by the retiring generation, industry insiders say; this will require efforts to recruit new blood to the skilled trades.

“The 2020 numbers are way off,” says Bill Ferreira, executive director at BuildForce Canada, which provides labour market information and programs for the construction work force.

However, “long-term trends haven’t been dramatically impacted by COVID,” he adds.

The organization is still compiling data from the previous year, but the long-term trends in its 2020-2029 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward national report likely still hold, Mr. Ferreira says.

In its update report from July, BuildForce anticipated that more than 257,000 construction workers will retire by 2029, and even accounting for modest post-COVID-19 growth and anticipating the entry of young workers joining the industry, the organization anticipates a shortfall of nearly 82,000 workers by 2029.

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