How to Assess the Labour Situation – Comparing Industry Needs and the Aboriginal Labour ForceHow to Assess the Labour Situation – Comparing Industry Needs and the Aboriginal Labour Force

The goal of assessing the labour situation is to have a good understanding, at a detailed level, of the match between the opportunities available in the construction sector and the supply of workers available in the Aboriginal communities (First Nations, Métis, Inuit). The level of detail of this industry assessment will vary from one situation to another. In many cases, there might be an obvious gap or opportunity; in others, the issues might be more subtle or complex, and a more thorough assessment will be required. In general, there must be enough detail to help the partners agree on the core issues and the most useful actions. A basic assessment is critical for setting a strong foundation for the initiative; assessment cannot, however, take the place of action. Do not get caught in the “paralysis by analysis” trap of spending valuable time and resources collecting more and more information after the conclusion is clear.

1. Understand the needs of the local construction industry and any projected shortages and surpluses in specific occupations and skill sets.


Collect and review information that is relevant to your situation.  Use the following as examples to start with:

  • What is the current demand for workers?
    • Number of full-time, part-time and casual openings
    • Number of permanent vs. contracted positions
    • Number of jobs and employees in key occupational groups
    • Geographical location of jobs
    • Requirements such as skills, trade certifications, driver’s license etc.
    • Average, minimum and maximum wage rates for key occupational groups
  • What is the projected demand for workers?  That is, what retirements/openings are expected?  What new projects are planned?  When?
    • Number of full-time, part-time and casual openings
    • Number of permanent vs. contracted jobs
    • Number of jobs and employees in key occupational groups
    • Geographical location of jobs
    • Requirements such as skills, trade certifications, driver’s license etc.
    • Average, minimum and maximum wage rates for key trade/occupational groups
  • What could be the related demand (current or projected) in other employers?  For example:
    • What Aboriginal companies could be contracted to do the work or to be a key supplier?  How many jobs/workers might be involved?
    • What openings could be made available within existing suppliers, subcontractors, etc. by moving their employees into construction?  For example, could a local forestry company hire Aboriginal workers to fill behind their employees moving into a construction company?
  • What other industries are competing for workers in this region?  How do the construction industry opportunities compare?  What similar occupations are experiencing shortages/surpluses?

Mapping out worker needs

Occupations / Trades  
(examples only) Additional people needed now People needed in 
6 months People needed in 
1 year People needed in 
2 - 3 years
Unskilled labour        
Carpenter        
Licensed electrician        
Supervisor or foreman        

2. Understand the numbers and characteristics of the workers available in Aboriginal communities (First Nations, Métis, Inuit).

Collect and review information that is relevant to your situation.  Use the following as examples to start with:

  • What is the current working age population?
    • Number with solid basic skills (equivalent to Grade 10 in reading and math)
    • Number with work experience in construction trades (specify)
    • Number with trades certification or apprenticeship (specify in which trade)
    • Number with experience supervising others
    • Number currently enrolled in a trades training program or apprenticeship.  Anticipated date of completion.
    • Number with/without other requirements such as access to transportation, drivers’ license, etc.
    • Number who might be potential candidates for training programs to enter the industry.
  • What is occurring in the local labour market?  What is the employment rate?  How many opportunities are available?
    • What other industries compete for the same pools of labour?
    • What similar occupations are experiencing shortages/surpluses?
    • Which industries are most attractive to Aboriginal workers in this region and why?
    • What barriers make it difficult for local Aboriginal workers to get and keep jobs in the construction industry?

Mapping out labour supply

Occupations / Trades  (examples only) People ready now People who could be ready in 
6 months; what is needed to get them ready? People who could be ready in 
1 year; what is needed to get them ready? People who could be ready in 
2 - 3 years; what is needed to get them ready?
Unskilled labour        
Carpenter        
Licensed electrician        
Supervisor or foreman        

3. Compare the supply with the demand and summarize the conclusion.

Have all of the partners provided their perspective on the most important gaps or the most promising opportunities?

List the barriers (if any).  What actions could remove these barriers or minimize their impact?