The Loss of Jobs in The Trade Industry – How the Economy Affected the Trade Industry
After a boom that lasted over a decade, thousands of trade jobs disappeared from across Canada with Alberta being the epicenter. Trades such as carpenters, electricians, ironworkers, labourers, millwrights, operating engineers, pipefitters and sheet-metal workers are feeling the effects of the bad economy. Along with the oil and gas industry, construction was hit very hard.
BuildForce, the construction industry association, projected that the number of construction jobs in the oil sands could fall by 15 per cent or more with most of the losses tied to engineering jobs with the losses also occurring in residential construction. The association also forecasted that construction hiring won’t start to rebound in Alberta until 2018 and will grow by just six percent over the next decade.
In the past 10 years, the construction industry created over 62,000 jobs across Canada in the past three years; but with the slowdown, it is only expected to add 81,000 jobs over the next decade. Construction work is expected to shift from the resource sector toward infrastructure projects with British Columbia leading the country with 22,000 non-residential construction jobs over the next 10 years due to hydroelectric and LNG projects. Manitoba and Saskatchewan are projected to follow with mining, pipelines and utilities projects, and Ontario with transportation projects such as Toronto’s subway expansion.
Some experts believe the job losses are caused by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Under NAFTA, the manufacturing sector has suffered in both Canada and the US, with Canada losing more than 23 per cent of its factory jobs since 2000 or 500,000 manufacturing jobs. With CETA expected to be NAFTA on steroids, over 100,000 people demonstrated in Europe due to fears of job cuts, lower wages and worse inequality. The Global Development and Environment Institute (GDEI) at Tufts University’s projection for Canada was not so bright. They forecasted a net loss of 23,000 jobs in the first seven years of CETA and a fall in the average income by up to $2,650 by 2023.
Other experts blame job losses on technology improvements, robots and automation. The Oxford University Carl Frey and Michael Osborne 2013 study estimated that 47% of US jobs could be replaced by robots and automation in the next 10 to 20 years. In 2016, the World Bank estimated that about two-thirds of jobs in developing nations, including Canada, are at risk of being replaced by automated technology. While new technologies eliminate some jobs, it creates new ones – but this transition takes time. Technological advances disrupt labour markets and hurt people whose skills become obsolete. Even if workers remain in their occupation, new technologies demand new skills due to the transformation of their jobs.
So what can you do to prepare for such a disruptive market? Watch the trends and learn about emerging economies. As the world changes, the types of jobs will change and the skills required for these jobs will also change. One new trend is the green economy where electricians will be in demand. If you’re interested in becoming an electrician, you may do well to learn about solar PV, wind turbines, energy auditing and Building Management Systems (BMSs) or becoming Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. By getting prepared and understanding changes in the labour market, you can still have a promising career despite global economic disruptions.
Giselle Mazurat received her designation as a Certified Resume Strategist from the Career Professionals of Canada. She also writes technical and business content for government and private companies.
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