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Labour market outcomes of Indigenous journeypersons in Canada

Press Release

March 13, 2023


Over the last several decades, the number of Indigenous people in Canada has steadily increased. In the most recent Census (2021), 1.8 million Indigenous people were enumerated, representing a 9.4% increase from 2016.Note  In comparison, the growth of the non-Indigenous population over the same period was 5.3%.

Results from the 2021 Census also observed a trend seen in previous censuses – specifically, the Indigenous population is younger than the non-Indigenous population by almost a decade.

Although the number of Indigenous people in Canada has steadily increased, and is younger than the non-Indigenous population, Indigenous people generally have a lower participation and employment rate, and a higher unemployment rate in the labour market compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts – especially in occupations that tend to require higher levels of education.Note  The existing gap in postsecondary educational attainment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada likely contributes to this.

Efforts to address these inequalities and advance reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people are being made through various organizations and government agreements. Efforts include the Government of Canada’s commitment to working closely with Indigenous Peoples to better support their plans for self-determination, recognizing and promoting Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing and self-government. Investments are also being made in health, social, and educational services.Note Note 

One important educational pathway in Canada is vocational training. This is a pathway many postsecondary students take to obtain hands-on training in a trade or occupation, after which students can become skilled trades people in high demand and essential industries, such as construction, transportation, information and digital technology, and the services sector.

In recent years, the number of new registrations in apprenticeship programs has not kept pace with the demand for skilled tradespeople. An aging workforce, particularly among the non-Indigenous population, combined with significant infrastructure investments, has increased the demand for skilled tradespeople.

Barriers to participation and success persist in the skilled trades for key groups, including Indigenous peoples, women, and racialized groups. Understanding Indigenous people’s representation and outcomes as journeypersons may lead to greater diversity and inclusion in the skilled trades, as well as increased labour supply.Note  This study considers the labour market outcomes of recently certified First Nations (on- and off-reserve), Métis and Inuit journeypersons in Canada.

First Nations men are underrepresented among Indigenous journeypersons

According to the 2016 Census, Indigenous men made up 4.5% of the Indigenous population in Canada, whereas Indigenous women made up 4.8%.  Of the Indigenous journeypersons aged 18 to 64 who received their certificates between 2008 and 2017, Indigenous men comprised 4.1% and Indigenous women comprised 5.1%. Overall, Indigenous people’s representation among recently certified journeypersons were comparable to their proportion of the Canadian population.

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