New program from BuildForce Canada creates opportunities for entry-level workers and employers

By Pat Rediger

BuildForce Canada has announced a new program called Construction Career Pathways (CCP) to create more opportunities for both individuals wishing to enter the construction industry and for employers looking for entry-level workers.

“We put together a program to encourage employers to take a chance on people who have never worked in the industry. Once they get in the door, we hope that most employees will stay with their employers. This would help supplement the overall labour force,” said Bill Ferreira, executive director of BuildForce Canada.

CCP launched in April of this year and has a one-year funding commitment from the federal government. Both employers and employees can access the program on the CCP website (

Ferreira says the program consists of 16-week, entry-level, paid work placements on construction sites across the country. No prior industry experience is necessary for workers, and employers can access funding to offset the onboarding these employees require.

The program targets small and medium-sized businesses (fewer than 500 employees) with a total wage subsidy of up to $2,400 per employee at the end of their work placement. There are placements available for up to 1,000 workers with half of the program intake allocated to individuals from populations that are underrepresented in the construction industry such as women; members of Black, Indigenous and racialized communities; people with disabilities; newcomers; those who identify as LGBTQ2+ and young people wanting to get work experience.

“There are benefits for both the employers and the employees,” said Ferreira. “The benefits to the company are that they get access to individuals who are keen to work in the construction industry and for workers, they get their first opportunity to work in the industry. The funding itself is designed to help offset some of the costs that the employer would face. The benefits for the individual are not only the immediate employment, but also hopefully a career that they wish to pursue in the construction industry.”

He says the program addresses two key areas that typically concern both sides: the cost of training a new employee and the lack of first-job opportunities. The program is intended to bridge that gap so the employer has a financial incentive to take a risk on a new employee.

BuildForce Canada is a national, industry-led organization that represents all sectors of Canada’s construction industry. Its mandate is to support the labour market development needs of the construction and maintenance industry. It works with key industry stakeholders, including contractors, proponents of construction, labour providers, governments and training providers to identify both demand and supply trends that will impact labour force capacity in the sector, and supports the career searches of job seekers wanting to work in the industry.

How to register

Both the employer and employee must register on the CCP site to participate in the program and answer a few basic questions. Companies provide a description of the position that they are looking to fill and individuals looking for work complete an online profile. BuildForce has partnered with Magnet, a company started by Toronto Metropolitan University, to assist with the matches.

The employer is still responsible for interviewing the employee and completing the hiring process. Once a job seeker reaches an agreement with the employer, the individual is then encouraged to take BuildForce’s online construction safety awareness course to assist with the onboarding process. At the end of the work term, BuildForce will provide the funding to the company.

Ferreira says that the program is really for entry-level positions in the construction industry and is not for Red Seal positions. Employers in heavy civil construction, residential construction and other construction sectors that don’t hire Red Seal trades now have access to a new program that addresses their specific needs. The program does not overlap with the Canadian Apprenticeship Service, although a new employee may consider entering the apprenticeship program after completing their 16-week program.

The program is a key ingredient of addressing the labour shortage the construction industry is currently experiencing, which is only expected to increase in the coming years, Ferreira said. There are estimates that one in every five construction workers are expected to retire within the next seven years, leaving a huge gap in the labour market. This issue, combined with increasing demand for new housing and infrastructure projects, will con­tinue to put pressure on the industry to complete projects in a timely and cost-effective manner.