Alberta needs to start training new workers now, even as it projects Alberta could lose up to 11, 000 construction jobs over the next year.

Rosemary Sparks, executive director of BuildForce Canada said Tuesday it’s a complex time for the industry, which needs to make sure it has a skilled workforce trained and ready for when the economy turns around.

Sparks said over the next ten years we’ll be losing 19 per cent of construction workers due to retirement.

“You cannot create a tradesperson overnight. This is a four or five-year investment to get them trained up and skilled to do the kind of work that needs to be done in construction,”she added. “We have to be thinking now about attracting those new young people into the industry. Women, indigenous people, newcomers to Canada – we have to make sure that we’re drawing on all of the labour sources that are available.”

Sparks said several large projects will reach completion this year in Alberta and that, coupled with low oil prices, will continue to limit new investment and growth– meaning job losses.

New housing construction is expected to pick up in 2018 adding back 10,000 jobs. A further 9,300 oil sands construction jobs are expected to be lost through to 2023, with recovery in that sector not expected until 2024.