Why Focus on Aboriginal Employment in Construction?Why Focus on Aboriginal Employment in Construction?

There are many reasons to train and hire Aboriginal workers for Canada’s construction industry, including:

1. The construction industry will be facing a labour shortage.

  • From 2011-2019 the construction industry will have to attract close to 300,000 additional workers from non-traditional populations: youth, older workers, women, immigrants and Aboriginal peoples1.
  • Aboriginal workers could help to address skilled labour requirements and there is already a good base to build upon.  Consider that 19% of Aboriginal men aged 25 to 64 reported being certified in building and construction technologies and trades.2

2. Aboriginal workers have valuable training and skills.

  • Rising education levels - In 2001, almost one in five Aboriginal men who had chosen their career field, aged 25-64, held a trade or college level credential in a building and construction technology or trade.
  • Carpenters and trades helpers/labourers are the most common occupations of Aboriginal workers with jobs – as well as among those currently unemployed or not in the labour force.
  • Talent and skills are available – From the 2006 census, an estimated 44% of the Aboriginal population had completed training beyond secondary school.  An estimated 14% had trade credentials; 19% had a college diploma; and 8% had a university degree.3

3. Aboriginal workers can provide a stable local workforce.

  • Aboriginal workers are more likely to choose construction than non-Aboriginal. There is a high concentration of Aboriginal workers in prime working age.4
  • For business, the combination of underemployment, a younger than average population, and individuals rooted in the local community make the Aboriginal population an ideal pool of talent for long-term engagement.

4. Diversity in the workforce gives good results.

  • Diversity in decision making— Hiring Aboriginal workers increases diversity in the workplace. This, in turn, yields richness of ideas, better-informed decisions and enhanced performance within the organization.  
  • Recruiting Aboriginal women into construction can be a good way to tap an under-utilized source of labour and expand the diversity of the workforce.

5. Providing job opportunities makes it easier to do partnerships with Aboriginal communities.

  • Community infrastructure—Generates significant growth of community infrastructure, providing opportunities for joint ventures in construction and other areas of infrastructure development.
  • Federal departments give Aboriginal suppliers first opportunity to supply goods and services in set-aside contracts - contracts servicing Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal joint ventures must be 51% Aboriginal owned, and in firms of six or more employees, 33% of full-time employees must be Aboriginal.

6. Aboriginal employees can bring a perspective that helps companies change and grow. 

  • Aboriginal values—Aboriginal peoples place a high value on consensus and respect for others.
  • Respect for land and immense knowledge of their natural environment— Land is seen as a valued legacy to future generations and there is an immense knowledge of the environment, Aboriginal communities can be a good source for understanding the properties of plants and animals, the functioning of ecosystems and the techniques for using and managing them.

7. Aboriginal employees can help in reaching a broader client base.5

  • Population size—there are more than 1.4 million Aboriginal people across Canada – one of the fastest growing segments of the population in Canada.
  • There are genuine business advantages gained from employing Aboriginal people in the workplace, including accessing the growing Aboriginal market, and improving market knowledge of the local consumer base.
  • By employing Aboriginal people, you’ll enjoy increased exposure to Aboriginal clientele, opening up valuable new market opportunities.
  • Aboriginal communities comprise a multi-billion-dollar market for goods and services.

8. Government funding and training programs help to find workers and reduce costs. 

  • Extensive network of training programs for Aboriginal people -Programs are available to offset training costs for Aboriginal employees. The types of training programs will vary by region and community. To find what resources are available in your area, consult http://www.rhdcc-hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/employment/almp/index.shtml.

9. Aboriginal employment improves the socioeconomic situation – nationally and locally.

  • Increasing employment also increases the purchasing power of a larger consumer base, encourages skill development and expands the supply of workers.
  • Improving the socio-economic participation of Aboriginal peoples in the workforce would enhance their contribution to the Canadian economy.

10. Employers who welcome Aboriginal workers benefit from gaining a positive reputation.6

  • Support from Public and Regulators—Aboriginal engagement and employment programs help gain public and regulator support for projects, alleviating avoidable project delays and cost escalations.
  • Environmental legislation—federal and provincial environmental legislation gives local Aboriginal communities considerable influence over project approvals, especially if such projects would have a significant socio-economic impact on lifestyle and traditional activities.
  • Licensing approvals—the Ontario government has stipulated that any developer of “areas of traditional use by First Nations” must negotiate all aspects of the development with the local First Nations, as part of the licensing approval process.
  • Socio-economic impacts—the Nunavut Impact Review Board has the mandate to screen and review projects that may have significant adverse socio-economic effects on northerners or projects that generate significant public concern.
  • 1. Construction Sector Council 2011 – 2019 scenario based forecast
  • 2. The Aboriginal Workforce: What Lies Ahead CLBC Commentary http://www.clbc.ca/files/Reports/Aboriginal_Commentary_piece.pdf
  • 3. The statistics on this page are taken from the Statistics Canada 2006 Census: Analysis series: http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/as-sa/index-eng.cfm
  • 4. A Study of Aboriginal Participation in the Construction Industry: Construction Sector Council, Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada. 2005
  • 5. AWPI Employer Toolkit (2003)
  • 6. AWPI Toolkit, Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative (2003).