Downplaying Canada’s skilled trades deficiency short-sighted: BuildForce

A recent TD Economics report focusing on Canada’s skilled trades shortages may be masking real and serious skilled labour challenges faced by Canada’s construction industry,” according to BuildForce Canada. “The reality is that there are, and will be, acute skilled trade challenges within the construction industry in parts of Canada that simply cannot be ignored,” said Rosemary Sparks, executive director of BuildForce Canada, a national industry-led organization that provides critical labour market forecasts. “While we support the TD Economics report recommendation that Canada cannot take a “wait and see” approach, this report does not address specific challenges revealed by a more detailed analysis of sector specific labour markets.”

Canada’s strong resource construction sector will continue to put significant pressure on an already tight labour market in Western Canada, Northern Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador over the next decade. In these provinces, challenges created by an aging workforce and skilled trades shortages are real. For example:

  • Current shortages of skilled construction trades including carpenters, plumbers, electricians and welders threaten project schedules and production delays in Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • Industry will be challenged to meet demands for skilled construction trades, given a new wave of construction investment in Alberta’s oil sands over the medium term;
  • In B.C., major mining and LNG major projects are scheduled to start in the next few years, again challenging industry to meet demands for skilled construction trades.

“Our forecasts indicate a shortfall of skilled construction tradespeople over the next decade, as new projects move forward and over 200,000 workers, or close to 25 per cent of the construction workforce retire,” Sparks added. “This is the time to be aggressive in planning for the future and promoting careers in skilled trades. Industry requires short-term and long-term strategies to ensure a skilled workforce is available to meet demand. Our economy also depends on it.”

In the same week that BuildForce Canada responded to the report, it was also announced that Skills/Compétences Canada, a not-for-profit organization that actively promotes careers in skilled trades and technologies, will he holding the 20th annual Skills Canada National Competition in Toronto at the International Centre from June 4-7, 2014. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA) have signed on as Presenting Sponsors.

The event attracts hundreds of students from all provinces and territories, and features at least 40 unique skilled trade competitions in the categories of Construction, Employment, Information & Technology, Manufacturing, Service, and Transportation. It is the only event of its kind where young Canadians studying a skilled trade or technology can be tested against exacting industry standards and vie for the honor of being named the best in their chosen discipline. Competitors will also be aiming for a coveted spot on WorldSkills Team Canada 2015, heading next to WorldSkills São Paolo 2015, in Brazil.

“Our Government is committed to fixing the skills mismatch in Canada where we have too many Canadians without jobs and too many jobs without Canadians,” said the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism. “We are proud to partner with Skills Canada to promote the skilled trades as a great opportunity for Canadian youth.  Together we can attract more youth to a rewarding career in the skilled trades.”

“Industry faces new and emerging challenges resulting from the growing shortage of skilled workers. Ensuring we have the right people with the right skills is critical to the success of oil and gas projects,” said Geraldine Anderson, media spokesperson for CAPP. We need to continue to work with organizations such as Skills Canada to attract more young Canadians into the skilled trades and provide more employment-based training opportunities. The Skills Canada National Competition highlights this important issue and CAPP is proud to provide support again, in 2014.”

For more information on the 2014 Skills Canada National Competition visit or

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