Construction is the backbone of the Canadian economy. It employs 1.4 million people and accounts for 7 per cent of Canada’s GDP. The industry is facing a serious workforce shortage as we brace for about 21 per cent of workers retiring over the next decade. A strategy is needed aimed at recruiting, retaining and re-training a diverse, skilled and tech-savvy workforce in order to keep this important economic sector healthy and competitive.
Through CCA’s #CDNConstructionGives campaign, we have highlighted work that companies, individuals and partner associations across the country have undertaken in their communities. From local charity fundraisers to volunteering time and equipment for community projects, our industry is an integral part of communities in the country. To address labour shortages, our industry continues to promote the skilled trades as an excellent opportunity for all Canadians to consider as a career path. While the federal government has a responsibility to ensure all industries are a viable place to work for any Canadian, micro-focused regulations for the construction industry can hinder overall growth and productivity for all. The entire industry has always been committed to benefiting communities, but getting policies right is critical for meeting our infrastructure needs and addressing labour shortages.
What can the government do?
CCA is calling on the federal government to increase funding for career and technical training programs.
The demand for labour is strong and more needs to be done to boost the supply of qualified workers. CCA is asking the government to fund its request for 1,700 student placements over four years in construction work-integrated learning (WIL) programs across Canada. Continued funding for apprenticeship programs will strengthen the pool of skilled labour.
CCA is asking that the federal government invest with CCA in programs that promote the industry as an employer of choice to new Canadians, Indigenous groups, women and other under-represented groups.
Research is needed into perceptions of what a career in construction means for youth, Indigenous groups, women, new Canadians and other under-represented groups. A national strategy to re-position the image of the industry as an inclusive sector with opportunities for career growth is essential to address the workforce shortage.
CCA is asking that the current procurement process remain the same to ensure productivity and competitiveness.
The efforts of our association through #CDNConstructionGives, the numerous charitable initiatives undertaken by our members in their local communities, and CCA’s long-term implementation of a diversity strategy is a signal of our commitment to community benefits without the need for a formal legislative lens. Specific legislation or regulations have the potential to threaten the fair and competitive bidding process on federal government contracts and tenders. The focus should be on working with industry to develop an inclusive workforce strategy rather than on creating legislation that may expose projects to political interference and costly delays.