As major projects wind down and the impact of lower oil prices persist, Alberta’s construction industry will shrink by up to 5,200 jobs through to 2019. The most significant workforce reductions are now behind it, however, according to the latest labour market forecast.

“With signs of a broader recovery ahead, labour markets are shifting and new job opportunities are opening up,” said Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada. “Job growth in new home and renovation work and seasonal shutdown/turnaround and maintenance work is expected to help offset some short-term employment losses.”

Forecast reflects the impact of continued oil price uncertainty, with no new major projects scheduled. As existing projects wind down, engineering construction employment declines. Non-residential construction growth should resume in 2019 and again in 2024 with a renewal in oil and gas investment. Alberta’s non-residential construction market will continue to diversify, as commercial and institutional building construction is expected to recover this year and rise steadily over the decade. This should drive moderate employment growth next year and over the medium term, along with the steady recovery in new home construction and the continued rise in renovation work. In the short term, higher than normal levels of planned industrial-sector maintenance and shutdown work will require thousands of specialized tradespeople and may create recruitment challenges during peak demand periods this spring and fall. Total construction employment is expected to decline this year, before broader growth resumes later in the scenario period, adding 8,300 jobs by 2027.

  • Growth in new residential and renovation work should add 4,500 jobs (6 percent increase), restoring residential construction employment to 2014 levels by 2021.
  • As oil sands construction recovers, up to 2,500 jobs should be restored by the end of 2027.
  • As many as 40,000 workers, or 19 percent of the workforce, is expected to retire over the next 10 years.

“The need to replace the province’s aging construction workforce is a constant,” added Ferreira. “This requires proactive planning and steady recruitment and training throughout construction’s up- and down-cycles.”