A Canada-wide, industry-led organization is forecasting construction workforce challenges in the coming years in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Forecast shows residential employment set to decline by 20 per cent over the next 10 years with the biggest hits coming between now and 2020.

BuildForce Canada’s executive director Rosemary Sparks said it has to do with decline in construction activity and the winding down of major projects.

“We are seeing the employment rate decline so we are seeing higher unemployment in the province,” she said. “We expect that’s going to be the case for the next little while.”

Sparks said the construction industry in this province had enjoyed “significant expansions” for more than a decade through major projects in Bull Arm, Long Harbour and central Labrador.

Falling oil and gas prices have also affected growth in the sector; a sector now facing a projected huge loss of its workforce.

“We expect there will be probably 5,000 workers that may leave the construction industry over the next 10 years,” Sparks told CBC.

“That’s 21 per cent of your construction work force.”

Sparks said it won’t be easy to find skilled trades workers when new resource-based projects are expected to start between 2022 and 2024.

“The current downturn and rising retirements make it all the more difficult to prepare for the next wave of proposed engineering projects,” she said.

“Over 3,000 workers may be needed when those projects are expected to start in 2022.”