OTTAWA – Strong activity in the province’s engineering-construction sector will drive construction and maintenance employment demands in Newfoundland and Labrador to a peak of nearly 16,000 workers in 2029.
BuildForce Canada’s 2023–2032 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward report for Newfoundland and Labrador, released today, finds the province in the midst of a period of growth. Continued increases in new-housing, institutional, and engineering construction sectors drove employment higher in both the residential and non-residential sectors in 2022. Meanwhile, slower rates of growth in the province’s construction labour force contributed to unemployment levels as low as 10% during the summer months.
The remainder of the short-term outlook (i.e., through 2025) calls for moderate increases in the residential construction sector, driven by strong rates of migration to the province, and elevated levels of activity in the non-residential sector.
“The construction and maintenance industry in Newfoundland and Labrador is well positioned to withstand any forthcoming contractions created by rising interest rates and a slowing global economy in the short term,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “Its housing market should continue to grow given its relative affordability, and activity in the non-residential sector is poised to rise to a peak with work on the West White Rose offshore platform and later the Equinor Bay du Nord project. The longer-run outlook, however, remains constrained by older age demographics, a declining population, and the completion of major projects.”
An aging workforce could present a significant challenge for the province’s construction industry. An estimated 5,700 workers, or 29% of its 2022 labour force, is expected to retire between 2023 and 2032. Over the same period, the industry is expected to recruit just 3,400 new entrants aged 30 or younger from the local population.
Although there are a number of additional major proposed projects being tracked, they are not presently included in the BuildForce analysis. Furthermore, the BuildForce analysis does not take into account the federal government’s goal to double the number of new homes built across Canada over the next 10 years. Nor does it account for any anticipated increase in demand for construction services related to the retrofit of existing residential, industrial, commercial, and institutional buildings to accommodate the electrification of the economy.
“Newfoundland and Labrador’s construction sector experienced a significant recovery in 2022, and as the global economy recovers and demand for electrification increases, the province’s construction sector is well positioned to make a substantial contribution to the economic success of the country,” says Terry French, President of the Construction Labour Relations Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The development of skilled tradespersons in the construction industry takes years, and often requires participation in a provincial apprenticeship program.
BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization that represents all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. Its mandate is to support the labour market development needs of the construction and maintenance industry. As part of these activities, BuildForce works with key industry stakeholders, including contractors, proponents of construction, labour providers, governments, and training providers to identify both demand and supply trends that will impact labour force capacity in the sector, and supports the career searches of job seekers wanting to work in the industry. BuildForce also leads programs and initiatives that support workforce upskilling, workforce productivity improvements, improvements to training modalities, human resource tools to support the adoption of industry best practices, as well as other value-added initiatives focused on supporting the industry’s labour force development needs.