Saskatchewan's construction sector booming

7,000 new workers needed to meet demand in next two years

Rising demand for potash, oil refinery expansion and a recovery in the housing market are driving Saskatchewan’s construction growth, and demand for labour is expected to peak next year, according to a new report.

"With a strong and growing economy, Saskatchewan continues to be a major attraction for skilled labour," says Michael Fougere, President of the Saskatchewan Construction Association. "Electricians, estimators, millwrights, boilermakers, heavy equipment operators, and a host of other skilled trades will continue to be in hot demand."

The Construction Sector Council's new report, Construction Looking Forward: An Assessment of Construction Labour Markets for Saskatchewan from 2011−2019, says demand for potash is behind new mining projects that more than double industrial and engineering investment from 2010 to 2012.

Oil refinery expansion and renewable energy projects will also contribute to the demand for one-third more non-residential construction workers, while housing expansion is expected to boost employment by 25 per cent in the residential sector.

"The demands in the residential construction industry are escalating in both the new home and renovation sectors," says Alan Thomarat, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders' Association – Saskatchewan. "It is critical to the future of Saskatchewan that appropriate and abundant housing is available to satisfy the growing population and communities.”

Thomarat, who also serves as chair of the board for the Saskatchwean Institute of Applied Science and Technology, also called on all stakeholders to support and build the capacity to train and deliver a professional and skilled worforce.

The report says that though projects wind down between 2013 and 2016, and demand for workers eases, housing leads a recovery with modest growth in commercial and institutional building to stabilize markets by 2018.

Over the forecast scenario period, estimates indicate there will be almost the same number of new workforce entrants coming into the construction workforce (6,600) as there are retirements (6,300), but this conceals the market pressures as current projects approach peak labour demand. Construction will need about 7,000 new workers to meet demand between 2011 and 2013.

"Continued investment in training and apprenticeships, and promoting the industry to youth, Aboriginal people, women, and immigrants are priorities for our industry," says Terry Parker, Business Manager, Saskatchewan Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council."

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