THUNDER BAY – There is a shortage of skilled construction labour in Thunder Bay. That is the finding of a new study by the North Superior Workforce Planning Board. “This is the first time we have done this report,” stated Business Co-Chair Frank Pullia.
Madge Richardson, the Executive Director stated, “To identify the demand for Construction Trades over the next five years to met the short and long-term employment needs”.
Major projects were identified in the study, including mining prospects.
Over $7 billion in construction projects identified
Harold Linstrom said, “We have the mobility where construction workers can shift into mining, as an example. We have experienced that in the past with labour mobility. Workers build the mill, and then work at the mill”.
The average age of a construction worker in the region is fifty-eight.
“The communities could sit back and do nothing, but the benefit to the communities won’t be as great,” continued Harold Lindston, the Manager of the Construction Trades Association of Thunder Bay. “As an industry ourselves, we don’t have the resources to met the demand. If we want benefits from this, we have to act pro-actively.”
Labour wants assurances. Workers who are coming back to Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario people want some stability. That is going to take a pro-active approach.
The next several years according to the NSWPB Report will show a growth in mining, followed by a drop as mines are completed. There is a potential for workers to shift from construction to mining, which should solve some of those issues.
Richardson shared was that there are likely to be need to import workers to take on the major projects. Northern Ontario does not have, at this time the needed skilled workers available.
Having local workers employed increases the economic benefit for the region. Non-resident temporary workers will be needed. Both to replace retiring workers and to met anticipated demand.
Depending on the decision that key community partners make, the population projections present a growing population of up to almost 15,000 people over the next five years.
This will represent significant growth after years of decline.
The NSWPB suggests that about 5,100 new jobs will be created, bringing overall employment levels back to the figures from 2007. Renewed resources and infrastructure spending have been fueling the growth.
Frank Pullia commented that unless key decisions are made, the overall growth of permanent population will be not as large as possible. Decisions made that will encourage people to move here to locate.
The goal is to establish short and long term strategies, these should include recruiting drives
The full report is available on the NSWPB Website.
Construction Labour Market Outlook
North Superior Workforce Planning Board