CaGBC addresses zero carbon skills gap in construction industry

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

According to Trading Up: Equipping Ontario Trades with the Skills of the Future – a new report by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) – equipping Canada’s labour force with the skills required for designing, constructing and maintaining low-carbon building infrastructure is critical to achieving a greener economy.

In Ontario, the impact of the skills gap is estimated at $24.3 billion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in foregone company revenues, with an additional $3.7 billion lost in foregone taxation. With buildings accounting for 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, addressing the current gap in low-carbon building skills is particularly important if Canada is to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“To date, not enough attention has been paid to building the skilled labour market that’s urgently needed to meet increasing activity in Canada’s growing green building industry and meet future demand that is imminent,” said Thomas Mueller, President and Chief Executive Officer of CaGBC in a press release.

Highlights from CaGBC’s report include:

  • An action plan to close the low-carbon building skills gap in the Ontario construction industry – its recommendations can be applied throughout Canada.
  • Recommendations for new types of training, incentives and construction processes that will help the trades workforce support the construction and mass retrofit of buildings that lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The report shows the threshold for mistakes in high-performing buildings is narrow and demands a higher level of sophistication, integration and precision for the entire project team. Technical skills alone will not satisfy the requirements of low-carbon buildings. Adjustments to the construction approach and an overall increase in green literacy across the trades is necessary to deliver high-performing buildings.
  • The report explores different delivery modes for training, ranging from full-time in-class courses to short online and on the job training as well as calling for a new certificate for low-carbon skills to help the construction industry identify and secure skilled trades for future projects.
  • Calls on governments to create supportive public policies and incentivize workforce education and training programs that the industry should implement for workers at all career stages.
  • A changing workforce: According to the report, more than 87,000 retirements – almost 20 per cent of the workforce – and up to 80,000 new jobs are forecast in the trades workforce over the coming decade. In the Toronto region alone, it is estimated that there will be 147,000 job openings in construction in the next 15 years. Filling these positions with people who are proficient in how to construct low-carbon buildings is of paramount importance as Canada moves towards a zero carbon economy.

The report was compiled by CaGBC with Mohawk College, McCallumSather, The Cora Group, the City of Toronto and the Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA). The project was funded, in part, by the Government of Ontario.

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