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"BuildForce Highlights - What Will Affect Labour Force Demands?"

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BuildForce Canada published its 2022–2027 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward report for the province March 15, 2022.

They have taken a decidedly different approach, and indicated that their scenario only focuses on a six-year horizon for provincial labour market data, as opposed to the 10 years studied in previous reports. The shortened forecast period allows the reports to focus more clearly on short and long-term demand and supply pressures impacting the province’s construction sector.

What is the significance of the report and how will it affect ICI construction moving forward?

For those in construction, they have already been directly affected and have been forced to navigate the key indicators and factors noted in the report. Although construction, for the most part, has continued throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic, it has not been a seamless exchange. This pandemic has caused both short and long-term supply chain disruptions resulting in uncertainty for schedules and overall project completions.

The fear of COVID-19 and extended federal payments to individuals has greatly contributed to the sluggish labour force growth in certain regions throughout construction. Although we kept working, those that were displaced due to COVID were not motivated to seek work in construction.

Furthermore, the invasion of Ukraine sparked further supply chain issues. Add to all of the pandemic induced factors the exterior issues introduced with this invasion and construction is now facing issues on multiple flanks. Construction witnessed a resurgence in drastic price escalations of construction goods and products, as well as fuel and other petroleum-based products. Couple these issues with the backlog of projects and a spike in demand for construction, especially major infrastructure projects, and we have an unattainable situation.

Bottom line of the report, ICI construction needs to entice more people to choose this industry as a career choice, not only in the trades, but in all the roles. The report noted that, “demands created by major infrastructure projects will increase the non-residential construction workforce by 23,000 (an increase of 12% of the 2021 labour force) through 2026.”

And the question of the hour: “How do we attract these individuals to construction?”

The OGCA has been tackling this issue for quite some time and has been working on multiple avenues to increase those looking at construction as a viable career choice. I have commented in various prior President’s Reports on the steps that the association has taken to move the dial toward construction.

I will provide you with a quick overview:

Firstly, the OGCA has aligned itself with established programs like the Specialized Trades Exploration Program (STEP) offered by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), with a new program that highlights the ICI sector and is aptly called STEP to ICI Construction.

This program allows students to gain hands-on experience in ICI construction while earning their high school diploma. It has been developed to improve school-to-work transition for high-school students by providing them with the essential skills they need to prepare for future construction careers. The program is a link for employers and potential new youth to enter into construction.

The response to our request for volunteers was overwhelming. The OGCA members are actively involved in the mentorship and the exposure to all aspects of construction for approximately 20 students. This may sound small, but this pilot will lead to more students entering the program to the tune of 50 or more per semester. This program is also being discussed at the provincial level in the hopes of rolling this out to all school boards in the province.

Secondly, the OGCA has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) on developing inroads for new Project Managers and to create an upskilling program for potential Site Supervisors. These offerings are intended to increase the number of new entrants from either the graduate programs at educational institutions or newcomers to Canada to find their way into ICI construction in the role of Junior, Intermediate or Project Manager.

The successful outcome of this application will create the necessary foundation to draw talent from new graduate programs, as well as newcomers to Ontario, and then properly vet them to the requirements of the ICI industry to ensure that the placements will have promising careers in our sector. Additionally, this same application would allow an avenue for the skills development for budding individuals that have the qualifications to be Site Supervisors and Project Managers from within companies. The best part of this process is that it is repeatable once a company has designated an existing Trainer, and provided them the opportunity to change the trajectory for up-and-coming workers in that company.

Thirdly, the OGCA is actively participating on a new construction panel at Skills Ontario that assists and provides guidance to the organization in their messaging to students as they continue to promote skilled trades throughout Ontario. This program offers provincial exposure and the committee continues to table new and innovative methods to engage with and to encourage students to seek out careers in construction.

The goal is to change the mindset that construction is a last resort. Instead, this committee strives to demonstrate that construction should be a first choice when looking for stable, promising and satisfying career options.

In short, the OGCA is intimately engaged on the subject of attracting the necessary individuals to the ICI construction industry in order to satisfy the labour force needs as indicated in the BuildForce Canada report.

Some of the key highlights of the report:

  • Total construction employment is anticipated to increase by 13,400 workers (+3%) to peak in 2023.
  • Residential construction surged in 2021 and will record more moderate gains in 2022 before receding thereafter as new-home construction recedes; employment declines by more than 11,000 workers (-5%) to 2027.
  • Major infrastructure project demands are a key driver of non-residential construction across the forecast period, contributing to an increase of 23,000 non-residential workers (+12%) to 2026.
  • The retirement of 56,300 workers across the six-year forecast period to 2027 will increase the overall industry recruitment requirements to 71,800 workers.

Should any of our members have questions about the BuildForce Canada report, workforce initiatives the OGCA is involved in, or if you require any assistance from the OGCA, please contact me directly at giovanni@ogca.ca or via phone at 905.671.3969.



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