Skilled labour shortage remains a concern

While there are generally positive feelings about construction business growth through 2012, there remains concerns about securing the right workforce that can do the jobs that need doing, says a recent survey conducted by the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS).

The survey found that 42 per cent of Ontario contractors are expecting a decrease in the availability of skilled construction tradespeople this year. Interestingly, more than half of the contractors in Northern and Eastern Ontario are concerned about the availability of labour, and those two regions have the highest expectations for business growth in 2012.

“When the province is working, it grows,” says Sean Strickland, chief executive officer of the OCS. “Building a strong and stable workforce for Ontario is a foundation of our economic prosperity. With many exciting projects on the horizon, it is not a surprise that our contractors are concerned about the pool of labour that is available to them.”

According to the Construction Sector Council, Ontario is facing a shortage of nearly 100,000 skilled tradespeople by 2019, with acute shortages expected in trades like boilermakers, construction managers, gasfitters, industrial instrument technicians, millwrights, pipefitters and welders will see the most need over the next few years.

Expected major construction projects are fuelling the demand for more skilled tradespeople. Projects like expanded public transit across the GTA and central Ontario, mining facilities in Northern Ontario, infrastructure projects for the 2015 Pan Am Games, investments in energy infrastructure, including refurbishing our nuclear power plants, and ongoing work with water and wastewater treatment plants mean steady growth in construction — and a need for skilled workers.

The Ipsos-Reid telephone survey of 500 non-residential industrial, commercial and institutional contractors across Ontario was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 14, 2011. Results are considered accurate within 4.4 per cent 19 times out of 20.

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