Steady Employment, Great Salaries and Meaningful Work: Meet the Skilled Trades

Improving education and employment opportunities for Indigenous Peoples in Manitoba – and closing the socioeconomic gap between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians – is an important issue to IPAM, our members, and the communities we represent. 

Through the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), which serves as the national voice for IPAM and its other provincial and territorial affiliate organizations, there is targeted support and funding available for Indigenous Peoples seeking education and training in the skilled trades. 

These high-demand jobs often require specialized training, apprenticeships and certification, but they can also offer salaries above the national average, meaningful work and steady employment. CAP’s program is designed to help Indigenous Peoples living in urban, rural and remote areas throughout Canada prepare for and gain these opportunities.

Indigenous youth, women, single parents, mature workers, persons with disabilities and those experiencing career change or transition are all eligible to apply, making CAP’s training and employment program an accessible, realistic pathway to new opportunities for Indigenous Peoples in all regions of Manitoba.

Canada’s Skilled Labour Shortage: An Employment Opportunity in Manitoba

In recent years, Canada has been facing a growing skilled labour shortage; the demand for trained and certified workers in the skilled trades is outpacing the availability of people to fill these jobs. 

As noted in a 2019 article in the CAP publication The Indigenous Voice, “Canada is on the cusp of a labour crisis. According to Statistics Canada, there is an ever-widening gap between the need for skilled tradespeople and availability of such workers. Over the next decade, 400,000 young Indigenous people will be eligible to enter the workforce. With the right skills and training, this population could be a significant source of labour for the skilled trades.”

In Manitoba alone, there are more than 55 different types of trades, ranging from mechanics to landscaping to crane operation to esthetics – the skilled trades offer a host of options for youth and adult Indigenous Peoples alike, whether living in the province’s urban, rural or remote areas.

Why Skilled Trades?

According to CAP, there are a lot of good reasons to choose a career in the skilled trades:

Earning Potential

Many skilled trades people earn incomes above the national average. These are well-paying jobs.

Earn While You Learn

You can earn hours towards completing your certification while getting paid.


Skilled trades play an important role in our economy and society. Almost every facet of our lives is affected by the trades – the cars we drive, the houses we live in, the buildings we work in. Skilled tradespeople are respected because of the highly specialized expertise they possess.


There is a huge demand for many skilled trades, which means regular, steady work.


If you have Red Seal certification, you can practice your trade in any province or territory.

Less Student Debt

Many tradespeople are not overwhelmed by student debt upon graduation. The cost of post-secondary training to become a tradesperson is, on average, less expensive than a university degree – and you can earn while you learn.

Source: “Canada’s Skilled Trades Crisis”! (The Indigenous Voice, 2019)  

Steps to Getting Education and Training in the Trades

Trades are classified as either compulsory or voluntary in Manitoba. When a trade is deemed compulsory it requires you to be registered as an apprentice or you must already be a certified journeyperson in order to work in the trade in Manitoba.

A certified journeyperson means a person who has graduated from high school, found an employer to take them on as an apprentice, has taken the required amount of classroom training, passed their certification exam, and then holds a Certificate of Qualification issued by Apprenticeship Manitoba (or a Certificate of Qualification recognized under the Agreement of Internal Trade). 

For example, to become a certified carpenter in Manitoba, there are four levels of apprenticeship required through a combination of on-the-job and technical training and a certification exam. 

The steps required to become a certified tradesperson can be challenging to navigate, but CAP’s employment program includes information and support to make it easier.

Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program (ISET): Preparing for and Finding High-Demand Jobs

The ISET program is targeted to Indigenous Peoples living off-reserve throughout Canada. Indigenous youth, women, single parents, mature workers, persons with disabilities and those experiencing career change or transition are all eligible to apply. Through the program, participants are supported to prepare for and find high-demand jobs that will help address Canada’s labour market challenges. 

Funded through Employment and Social Development Canada, the ISET program includes everything from career planning, skills training, work experience, self-employment assistance and help finding a job.

And, CAP’s program funds both employers and individuals.

Employers can apply for funding for eligible project proposals that provide an opportunity for Indigenous Peoples to gain the skills required to find employment and to fill job gaps in sectors experiencing skills and labour shortages. ISET funding and support can help employers with:

  • Strategies to address labour shortages
  • Shared financing to train new employees
  • Matching employer needs with skilled staff
  • Supporting industry-recognized or customized-employer skills training
    • Increasing workplace inclusion, diversity and retention

Individual client funding sponsors off-reserve Indigenous students currently enrolled in or starting skills training programs. CAP provides tuition, textbooks, supplies and materials costs for students in certificate programs, diploma programs (up to two years) or in their final year of an undergraduate degree program. CAP can also provide a living allowance (based on financial need) to a student. They can also sponsor Indigenous students who are non-status, status who are living off-reserve and not able to apply to their band for funding, Métis (including those who are unable to apply to Western Métis provincial organizations for funding) and Inuk (Southern Inuit).

The ISET program also helps Indigenous Peoples with:

  • Employment Counselling – assists and guides individuals in career planning, training, labour market information, resume preparation, job searches, interview techniques, etc.
  • Skills Training – assists individuals with skills development by providing funding for training.
  • Wage Subsidies – provides work experience by providing wage subsidies to employers.
  • Self-Employment Assistance – provides financial assistance, business training and professional support that enable clients to develop a business plan or start a business.

Source: CAP and “Canada’s Skilled Trades Crisis”! (The Indigenous Voice, 2019)  

More Information and How to Apply

Interested in pursuing the trades, but not sure where to start?

Visit the CAP website for details on the ISET program, success stories of CAP constituents now working in the trades, how to apply for ISET funding and support, and who to contact for more information.

Read the CAP article in The Indigenous Voice Magazine on jobs in the skilled trades, and the educational steps to employment.

Learn about the 55 different trades in Manitoba, the training requirements, and jobs available.

Become an ISET business and employee partner by contacting the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples’ ISET Program department.

Join IPAM, and let’s support our youth and communities with more opportunities together.

The Indigenous Peoples Alliance of Manitoba (IPAM) is a collective voice broadly representing, preserving and promoting the heritage, culture, language and rights of all Indigenous Peoples in Manitoba. We work together to inclusively and respectfully represent the interests of all Métis, First Nation, Inuit, and Non-Status or Off-Reserve Peoples who identify as Indigenous in urban, rural and remote areas of the province. IPAM is an official affiliate organization of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, one of five National Indigenous Organizations recognized by the Government of Canada.