Construction employment is expected to remain at record-high levels in Canada for at least another decade.

That’s the assessment of a new national forecast of labour supply and demand released recently by the Construction Sector Council (CSC).

Canada will need an estimated 319,000 new construction workers between 2012 and 2020 to keep pace with increasing demand from the industry and to compensate for the rising number of anticipated retirements, says the forecast called Construction Looking Forward.

CSC business co-chair Tim Flood said industry stakeholders are drawing on past experience to find ways to meet future demand.

“Recruiting for the projects is the first priority, but there is a second critical challenge related to training and retaining workers to meet current needs as well as long-term needs.

“The industry is working to ensure that investments in apprenticeships and other types of training and support systems keep pace with demand.”

According to the forecast, the national construction labour force is expected to rise by 100,000 workers between 2012 and 2020 to meet demand associated with increased construction activity. Meanwhile, the workforce is aging and baby boomers are expected to retire.

An estimated 219,000 construction workers are expected to retire Canada-wide in the next decade, meaning that the industry will need to replace more than 20 per cent of its current workforce in the same time period.

CSC labour co-chair Robert Blakely, director of Canadian affairs for the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, said another major challenge for human resource managers will be tracking the mobility of skilled trades workers across regions as they’ll be needed in specific areas for mining, oil and gas, pipeline, electrical generation and transmission projects.

“Many of these projects are in remote northern locations, but the scale of this work generates significant demand requirements across many provinces,” said Blakely.

He said mapping the proposed start-up of major projects in some regions and the winding down of projects in others will be critical for assessing the inter-provincial mobility to meet peak demand requirements.