The residential construction industry is facing a significant shortfall in skilled labour in the coming years. According to BuildForce Canada, our industry will have to hire over 100,000 new skilled workers in the coming decade across the country to address mass retirements as our workforce ages – or 20% of the entire skilled workforce.
In Ottawa, residential construction and renovation accounts for approximately 43,000 on-site and off-site jobs.
Building 7,500 new homes a year and renovating our 400,000 existing homes translates into $2.8 billion in wages, but it also means that in Ottawa we need an average of 800 new workers every year for the next 10 years to keep up with demand.
In order to help address this significant labour shortage GOHBA adopted the promotion of skilled trades into its strategic plan, and established the Trades Development Initiative to connect members with those seeking employment, and to promote careers in construction.
As part of our efforts to promote skilled trades we are forging partnerships with educational institutions like Algonquin College, who are the largest source of training in the Greater Ottawa area. We’re also working with organizations like the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region, who have a strong history of working with the community so that underrepresented groups can have better access to skilled trade careers.
Over 2020 and 2021 the provincial government declared residential construction and renovation an essential industry – allowing most building and renovation sites to stay open during the wider lockdown. It did this in large part because professional builders and renovators maintain high health and safety standards, and were quick to adopt stringent COVID protocols. Those working in the industry remained safe and employed.
But beyond detailing an industry that is looking for good people and has plenty of opportunity, there are two things that I believe truly make a career in the skilled trades so appealing – entrepreneurship and energy-efficiency.
Entrepreneurship – For those looking to be their own boss or dream of running their own company someday, residential construction and renovation is tailor-made for you. The entire industry is built on companies and sole-proprietorships that were started by someone who learned a skilled trade, worked for a little while with an established company, and then set off on their own.
Energy-Efficiency – New housing is at the forefront of energy-efficiency, and existing homes have significant potential to reduce GHG emissions. If you are concerned about the environment, getting into residential construction and renovation gives you the opportunity to directly impact a home’s energy performance, and build the type of energy-efficient housing you want to see.
Residential construction and renovation is essential to Ottawa’s economic foundation, job creation, and housing quality. It can also be where you build your ideal career.