The Canadian construction industry has an aging workforce and, in the coming decade, will lose almost a quarter of its skilled workers to retirement. At the same time, forecasts indicate that in the medium to long term the industry will continue to grow.
To fill the vacancies left by retiring baby boomers and meet the demands of anticipated growth, the industry will need to recruit and train new workers. Due to low Canadian birth rates, however, the populations that the industry has traditionally counted on for recruitment will not be able to meet this demand. This means the industry will have to attract more than 300,000 additional workers from non-traditional populations: youth, older workers, women, new Canadians, visible minorities and Indigenous Peoples.
Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU), is working towards a more accessible, equitable workplace in Canada, through Build Together, a workforce development program focused on the recruitment and retention of workers from underrepresented portions of the population. Diversity in organizations is increasingly respected as a fundamental characteristic of an organizations ability to create an environment of involvement, respect, and connection – where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are harnessed to create value. A better-skilled and more inclusive workforce are the keys to successful attraction and retention.
This is a pivotal moment to extend this culture of openness and positivity to reach First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) people who are interested in working in Canada’s building trades. In addition, we will build on the momentum built through our work on women in the trades by advocating for the Next Generation of Building Trades workers & New Canadians. We believe this expansion reflects our intention of advocating and supporting a more diverse and inclusive industry.
Taking a step back, Build Together’s initial program, Women of the Building Trades, promotes, supports, and mentors women in the skilled construction trades. Initiated in 2013, the program is now a marquee national initiative for Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU). It has challenged the existing myths and stereotypes of careers in the trades, providing the space for a robust conversation on how to engage women in the sector. In support of the project, Build Together has created platforms where tradeswomen and industry can network and support the cause. Again, we’ve created the space for conversation on how to engage women in the building and construction trades. We’ve identified methods to defy stereotypes and amplify the strengths and characteristics of women as tradespeople. As part of our outreach tradeswomen have attended events across the country including tradeshows, career fairs, schools, mentorship events, and networking functions. We have been featured in media outlets across the country; part of the overarching narrative of the middle-class opportunities in the trades as well as the empowerment and equalization of women. In conjunction with the launch of our new Build Together pillars we will be launching an industry wide Industry Champion campaign, calling on leadership at all levels within the industry to be champions and advocate for respectful workplaces. We want to provide our community, our members and our partners with the most promising future in an inclusive network of building trades.
The future looks bright for skilled construction trades in Canada.