In a shift away from major industrial and engineering construction projects, more traditional core infrastructure construction and maintenance activities will be the primary employment drivers in New Brunswick, sustaining the province’s construction workforce near current levels this decade, according to the latest labour market forecast.

“Despite this slower growth period, there will likely be recruitment challenges in the fall of this year,” said Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “The scheduled maintenance/shutdown of a major refinery will create a significant short-term spike in demand for workers, especially those with specialized skills.”

Forecast shows construction activity mostly unchanged over the near term. Modest, though stable, residential and non-residential demands sustain construction employment growth. The long-term driver for construction activity was weakened significantly by the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline project. A proposed mining project, along with higher levels of federal and provincial funding in highways, bridges and other infrastructure, are expected to raise engineering construction employment this year through to 2020. As work is completed, employment is likely to decline between 2021 and 2022, before ramping up in the second half of the forecast period with the anticipated start of the Mactaquac Dam refurbishment project. Declining levels of institutional investment should result in the loss of up to 800 jobs in ICI (industrial, commercial, institutional) building construction across the forecast period. New housing construction will also continue to slow, while renovation and maintenance work, which currently accounts for eight in 10 residential jobs, will continue to grow.

BuildForce Canada’s forecast also shows:

  • Overall employment is expected to recede by a modest 7 percent by 2024 before a partial recovery.
  • Residential employment remains almost unchanged this decade. New construction falls to less than 12 percent of total residential construction, while renovation and maintenance work grows steadily across the scenario period.

Up to 28 percent of the construction workforce is expected to retire in the next 10 years, exceeding the national average. “New Brunswick’s construction workforce is retiring at a higher rate than in any other province,” added Ferreira. “Replacing as many as 7,100 retirees will take a real focus on attracting new workers from underrepresented groups, including Indigenous people and women, as well as new immigrants and workers from other industries.”