Canada faces decade of trades shortages

31 October 2011
Insulators and steamfitter-pipefitters top the list of sought after trades
Canada's ageing work force and multi-billion dollar resources projects are driving labour and skills shortages in the construction trades, with up to 320,000 new tradespeople needed between now and 2019.

Alberta, where a resurgence in mining activity has seen $193 billion in major projects on its books, accounts for almost half of the projected shortfall, with 157,000 new workers needed by 2019.

Insulators and steamfitter-pipefitters are the trades most sought-after, says the Construction Sector Council, a finding bourne out by SAIT's School of Construction in Calgary.

"As with all the trades right now, there seems to be a shortage of them and this one is rising to the top," says the Dean of SAIT's School of Construction, Larry Rosia.

Rosia adds that the challenges of keeping pace with fluctuations in demand for various trades is complicated by mining’s cyclical nature, particularly in energy-rich provinces where the top trades in demand can change quickly.

"It takes us four years to put out a journeyman, so for us to get ahead of these shortfalls is always a challenge and something we strive to work with industry to accomplish."

Rosia said that skill shortages existed across the board in trades.

"There are pockets across Canada where activity is particularly intense. Looking at the number of large-scale industrial projects in each province provides a strong indication of where the trades will be most in demand. The challenge is that all the sectors are looking for people."

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