CIC - Fall 2019

Build a high-demand construction career in the resource sector

Canada is rich in natural resources and offers significant potential for developing more renewable resources, such as wind and solar power. But we can’t leverage the value of these resources unless construction professionals build something first.

Mines require the construction of tunnels or excavations deep into the earth to extract iron, copper, aluminum, magnesium, and even gold and diamonds, and building the facilities that will help process them. Oil and gas extraction requires the construction of specialized wells, refineries and pipelines — and construction maintenance workers are required to keep these facilities in top shape. Wind farms require the specialized talents of construction workers who can build and install massive wind turbine towers and provide the electrical infrastructure, including power lines and transmission towers, that bring electricity to market. Installing vast solar arrays also involves the skills of construction workers who can erect photovoltaic panels and electrical equipment that can convert the sun’s energy into usable power.

Keeping Canada’s natural and renewable resource industries moving requires a team of talented individuals who follow their unique interests to contribute. Some of the careers of construction workers employed in these fields are: blasters and drillers; boiler and pipe insulators; boilermakers; bricklayers; carpenters; concrete finishers; construction craft labourers; crane operators; electricians; estimators; gasfitters; heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics; heavy equipment mechanics; heavy equipment operators; ironworkers; lineworkers, millwrights; sheet metal workers; steamfitters and pipefitters; surveyors; and welders.

There’s also plenty of room for advancement to positions that include construction supervisors and project managers. The ranks of construction executives are often filled by workers who started their careers in the trades.

Based on your interests and how you want to work, you can choose a career that involves outdoor work, indoor work, or both. In the trades, you’ll be assisted by an increasing array of high-tech tools that will help you measure, build, and install, or operate some of the largest pieces of heavy equipment in existence via computer screen.

There’s plenty of demand for workers in companies and projects across Canada. BuildForce Canada’s construction and maintenance labour market projections anticipate that in the decade from 2019 to 2028, the construction industry will require 44,100 more workers than it does today — a 4% increase.

But the real demand story is found in the unfolding retirement bubble that will see older workers leaving the construction industry in record numbers. Over the same 10-year period, 261,100 workers are expected to retire. That represents about one in four current construction workers. The industry is looking for young women and men, Indigenous people, and new Canadians who will be willing to invest their careers in construction over the long term.

Resource jobs are found pretty much everywhere, from Canada’s north to the east and west coasts. Work in remote sites or closer to major population centres. Work steady, predictable hours, or choose a job like energy-industry maintenance that offers lots of concentrated and intense work and then some down time.

Wages are very competitive and often include attractive benefits packages, including medical and dental coverage. Each year, Canadian Business highlights Canada’s best jobs. For 2019, six of the top 25 jobs involved construction careers that are in high demand for natural or renewable resource projects:

#4: Power systems electrician — median salary $86,000.

#5: Mining and quarrying supervisor — median salary $83,200.

#6: Pipefitting supervisor — median salary $81,000.

#10: Construction manager — median salary $83,000.

#15: Power line & cable worker — median salary $80,000.

#23: Oil and gas drilling supervisor — median salary $85,000.

There are many ways to enter the construction field, but people generally choose one of three.

You can apply for an entry-level position in the construction industry, learn the ropes and work your way up.

You can complete programs in colleges, technical institutes, and universities for programs that range from construction-related technician and technology diplomas to degree programs such as electrical engineering technology, building construction technician, and powerline technician. You could also aim for construction-related business management programs.

You can also enter the field through an apprenticeship program and spend about 80 per cent of your time on the job and 20 per cent in school. Because you’re working, you’ll get paid straight out of the gate. If you pass all the requirements, you’ll become a certified tradesperson.

Natural and renewable resources will continue to represent a huge slice of Canada’s economy. With the right training and education, you can be an important part of that sector in high-demand jobs that pay well and allow you to choose how and where you want to work. What’s not to like?

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BuildForce Canada is a national industry-led organization committed to working with the construction industry to provide information and resources to assist with its management of workforce requirements.