Ageing of the workforce affects several trades

Ageing of the workforce is of concern to many stakeholders, as several thousand workers will leave the industry in coming years due to their age. Currently, there are 23,000 workers aged 55 years or older in the industry. Ageing concerns mainly pipe welders, millwrights, crane operators, heavy equipment operators, boiler makers, heavy equipment mechanics, and shovel operators.

Replacement of retirees is only one aspect of worker turnover in construction. In fact, a number of beneficiaries of the construction pension plans continue to work. In total, replacements are needed annually for 1,500 to 3,000 net departures of workers aged 55 years or over.

On the other hand, the ageing trend is less evident in the trowel trades (bricklayer-masons, tile setters, cement finishers) as well as among carpenter joiners, electricians, refrigeration mechanics, reinforcing steel erectors, fire-protection mechanics, and some of the finishing and covering trades (interior systems installers, roofers). For these trades, there is an age adjustment resulting from the conjuncture. These trades call on a high number of apprentices, so that the average age evolves as a function of recruitment.

Finally, it is interesting to note that the overall average age of workers dropped almost continually from 1998 to 2013, going from 40.5 years to 38.9 years, due mainly to the arrival of large numbers of new apprentices. However, the average age rose in 2015, to 39.2 years.

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