Alberta could face skilled labour shortage despite energy sector layoffs

Alberta could face a shortage of skilled labour despite layoffs in the oilpatch unless companies and governments keep training new workers, an industry group warns.

EDMONTON — Alberta could face a shortage of skilled labour despite layoffs in the oilpatch unless companies and governments keep training new workers, an industry group warns.

BuildForce Canada is projecting a loss of 31,000 construction jobs due to the downturn in the oilsands over the next four years, with many of those people heading to other provinces.

“A skills vacuum is a real risk with the exodus of interprovincial workers within and outside the resource industry,” Rosemary Sparks, the group’s executive director, said Monday.

The effects of the sputtering energy sector are expected to ripple out to residential and non-residential construction, she said.

BuildForce Canada is forecasting the construction sector in Alberta will not bounce back until 2020.

The “skills gap” will be exacerbated by the retirement of thousands of baby boomers by the end of the decade, Sparks said.

Alberta has been through such boom-and-bust cycles before, but factoring in a large number of retiring workers at the same time will make dealing with the downturn more complex.

“That’s why it’s crucial for industry to stay focused on recruiting young people and attracting and keeping those skilled trades that are, or will be, in the most demand.

“We can’t wait for that cycle to turn around to start recruiting workers to replace the retiring workers. We have to make sure that we continue to replenish the workforce.”

Sparks said it takes four to five years to train a tradesperson through an apprenticeship program.

Some of the trades include carpenters, electricians, boilermakers, welders, pipefitters and heavy-equipment operators.

Sparks said companies will have to look at ways to keep skilled tradespeople on the job, such as doing maintenance work on major projects.

Governments and companies also to need maintain apprenticeship training programs.

“There is a role for employers and for governments to make sure we continue to have that system.”

Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador could also lose skilled workers due to the energy industry slump and retirements.

Skilled tradespeople are expected to seek work in provinces such as British Columbia, Ontario and Manitoba that have more construction projects on the drawing board, Sparks said.

ATB Financial, Alberta’s Crown-owned bank, is forecasting the first half of 2016 to be the roughest yet in the current economic downturn, with unemployment projected to reach up to eight per cent. Last January, the unemployment rate in Alberta was 4.7 per cent.

ATB is projecting more people could leave Alberta this year than move in, a migration pattern that hasn’t happened since 2010.

BuildForce Canada calls itself a national industry-led organization representing all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. It receives some funding from the federal government.

Just Posted

Downtown Red Deer was packed with people who lined the streets to watch the Westerner Days parade on Wednesday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Westerner Days parade cancelled, full details on modified event coming June 28

The 2021 edition of Westerner Days will look much different than any… Continue reading

City council wants to hear from the public at a May 25 hearing about whether the temporary homeless shelter should be allowed to remain in the downtown for another year. (Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer staff to recommend another extension to allow operations at current temporary shelter site

Following some more research city administration has received no other new locations… Continue reading

A scene from the short Western ‘Cheaters, Robbers and Outlaws,’ written and directed by Jason Steele, with support from Telus Storyhive. (Contributed image)
Red Deerians make ‘Cheaters, Robbers and Outlaws’ short Western film

Writer and director Jason Steele received a $20,000 Storyhive grant from Telus

Residents in several neighbourhoods reported little to no water pressure Tuesday night. (File photo by Advocate staff)
City hall to reopen for payments and customer service

Red Deer City Hall will reopen on June 21 for utility and… Continue reading

Char Rausch was selected as this year’s recipient of the Bob Stollings Award, which goes to an employee who has displayed outstanding civic performance in alignment with The City’s Cornerstone Values – Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
Char Rausch wins City of Red Deer Bob Stollings Award

The City of Red Deer is honouring employees differently this year. With… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price stops Vegas Golden Knights' William Karlsson as he is covered by Canadiens' Joel Edmundson during first period of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal Friday, June 18, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Andreson’s timely scoring, Price’s goaltending give Habs 2-1 series lead over Vegas

Canadiens 3 Golden Knights 2 (OT) (Montreal leads series 2-1) MONTREAL —… Continue reading

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) as he looks for an opening during the first half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal series Friday, June 18, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Curry, Harris help 76ers stay alive, hold off Hawks 104-99

76ers 104 Hawks 99 (Series tied 3-3) ATLANTA — Seth Curry hit… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise of a two-dose fall is… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Mendicino has announced a new policy to help settle 500 refugees and their families in a news conference today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year: Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced plans to expedite applications and increase the… Continue reading

Louis Oosthuizen, of South Africa, plays his shot from the third tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Friday, June 18, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Bland leads at Torrey and shows the US Open is truly open

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Open prides itself on being the most… Continue reading

The Prime Minister's car waits outside the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is showing no sign he'll release unredacted documents about the firing of two scientists at Canada's highest security laboratory — despite the prospect of being publicly shamed in the House of Commons for his refusal to turn them over. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
PHAC head maintains he’s bound by law not to release docs on fired scientists

OTTAWA — The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant in Canada

OTTAWA — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly… Continue reading

Various vaping nicotine e-liquids or "juice" are shown in a lab at Portland State University in in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, April 16, 2019. The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products… Continue reading

Most Read