1. About the Guide1. About the Guide

Background: Breaking Ground into Construction Trades

Grand River Employment and Training Inc. (GREAT) is an Indigenous organization specializing in employment and training services for citizens of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory in Ontario. BuildForce Canada (formerly the Construction Sector Council; CSC) is a national industry and government partnership with a mandate to address the human resource challenges facing the construction industry.

GREAT and BuildForce have partnered to work on the Breaking Ground into Construction Trades project, which addressed three key areas of activity: increasing awareness, improving access, and creating an employment action for the Indigenous population in the construction industry. Each of these areas will be addressed from both the Indigenous and the industry perspectives, with the goal of strong Indigenous industry relationships leading to engagement and employment of the Indigenousworkforce.


Raise awareness among

  • construction industry stakeholders of the opportunities presented by the Indigenous community, as well as its employment structures and training needs.
  • the Indigenous community of the construction industry and its structures, and the employment opportunities offered.
access Facilitate access to employment opportunities in construction for Indigenous peoples through the preparation of the industry and the Indigenous workforce.
action Create employment opportunities for Indigenous peoples and the construction industry.

Goal and Structure of this Guide

This How-to Guide aims to equip construction industry employers and Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) Program holders and other users with a comprehensive package of resources and tools to enable them to develop a workable, sustainable approach, program or initiative to increase awareness, improve access, and/or create an employment action in order to increase the numbers of Indigenous workers getting (and keeping) a job in the local, regional or national construction industry.

The Guide aims to be straightforward, action-oriented and pragmatic, and has been designed to provide the tools an organization needs, when it needs them. Each Section begins with a step-by-step approach to achieving the task at hand, e.g., establishing a program or navigating a specific stage of the employment cycle. This information is supplemented by tips and tools that provide practical guidance for achieving each step in the process.

Each Section identifies common elements of successful programs, as well as real examples of what other organizations are doing to overcome challenges and successfully recruit and retain Indigenous people in the construction industry. Examples are reflective of the particular challenges of urban, rural and remote communities; small and large organizations; as well as regional practices across Canada.

Who Should Use This Guide

This Guide is intended for the following users:

  • ISET holders (formerly Aboriginal Employment, Skills and Training (ASET) agreement holders), and
  • employers and organizations in the construction industry.

The Guide aims to enable ISET holders to provide information and assistance to their clients and to assist construction industry employers and organizations in hiring and retaining Indigenous employees. Typically, the tools it contains will be used by management of ISET holders or other Indigenous agencies, frontline/client-facing staff in ISET holders who work directly with job seekers, and hiring managers and human resource professionals in construction employer organizations who are responsible for attracting, hiring and integrating employees.

Whether an organization is small or large, operating in an urban, rural or remote location, or has the goal of realizing a small or large initiative relating to Indigenous employment in the construction industry, this Guide can help the organization meet its goals.

It Depends on Where You Work…

An important consideration when setting up an Indigenous employment or skills-based initiative is whether it will be established in an urban, rural, or remote location1.  ISET holders and employers may experience somewhat different needs, conditions and opportunities depending on where they will operate. Here are some examples:

  • Urban areas have a population of 1,000 or more, and no less than 400 per square kilometre.
  • Rural areas are all those areas outside urban areas.
  • Remote is a term used for rural communities that cannot easily access an urban centre by highway.

ISET holders and employers may experience somewhat different needs, conditions and opportunities depending on where they will operate. Examples of these include:

  Urban Rural Remote
  • Urban environments can be difficult for First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals more familiar with rural or remote environments.
  • There can be greater competition for workers among employers in urban environments.
  • Access to training can be limited.
  • Travel is a challenge for rural and remote Canadians, who face far higher travel costs than urban Canadians.
  • Workers in rural and remote areas of Canada often have a different experience base  than their urban counterparts.
  • Participating in training can require costly travel and lengthy periods away from home.
  • Sustainable employment opportunities are often limited.
  • There is a larger talent pool, with more candidates to choose from, in an urban environment.  
  • Training and employment support services are often easier to access.
  • Indigenous communities are the only rural and remote areas where population levels are rising.
  • Local workers are usually pleased to be able to work in their home community. 
  • Hiring local workers minimizes the costs of fly-in, fly-out operations.
  • Local workers know the communities and the environment.

This Guide, where appropriate, highlights specific considerations for urban, rural or remote locations, including the following:

  • Case studies and comments representative of urban, rural and remote initiatives
  • Section 3: Creating Awareness
Successful Models of Rural/Remote Apprenticeship Programs
  • Section 4: Building the Foundation: Skill Development
Examples of training initiatives for urban, rural and remote areas
  • Section 5: Linking People with Opportunities/
Methods of communicating job openings for urban, rural and remote areas
  • Section 6: Succeeding with Hiring and Retention:
Considerations during the selection, hiring and retention process for candidates from urban, rural, and remote areas
  • 1. According to Statistics Canada: