Right now the labour supply is tight. We need to train as many Canadians as we possibly can. We need to get them into apprentice programs to address workforce shortages. Between now and 2017, the Construction Sector Council estimates there will be something like 320,000 construction workers who will be required to meet demand due to demographics and economics.
You have these two divergent forces. You have a tightening of labour supply and an expansion of economic investment in a key economy. It takes four years for most construction trades. Canada's employers and the construction unions have an opportunity. It's a real opportunity to add value to the system. If we don't, the labour supply will be even tighter.
I mean, they don't let me near the tools; I don't want to give you that impression. But if you take a look around a work site, most of the folks on that site are on their way out of the workforce. The average age of a construction worker in Canada is mid-forties, but the majority of them are past 50.
What are we going to do between now and 2017 to make sure we are replacing that workforce? It's demographics colliding with the economics of this massive investment. We're at a point where we're grabbing people from all parts of Canada to work in Alberta and beyond on energy projects.