Working with your hands: it takes skill, intelligence, patience, and a pride in what you're doing. But in North America today, some of our policies and structures assume that getting your hands dirty is second-class work. The Building Meaning Project will reframe our understanding of the trades and make the connection between the dignity of working with one's hands, good jobs, and a healthy Canadian economy.



At our recent Canada's New Industrial Revolution conference, industry stakeholders noted that social bias against the trades negatively affects our ability to develop a sustainable trades workforce. Bias is a barrier. And, compounding the problem, significant numbers of apprentices don't complete their training. So what can we do about it?

In partnership with leading construction associations and labour organizations, Cardus presents the Building Meaning Project. This project will consist of:

  • A series of nationwide interviews with industry and government leaders
  • Regional roundtables for policy development
  • Media connections and coordinated efforts to change narratives and influence opinions
  • A strategic, cross-country "Beating the Bias" trades promotion plan


Roundtable Schedule


Roundtables are by invitation only. To express your interest in attending, please contact the director of the Building Meaning Project, Brian Dijkema.


Sponsorship Opportunities Available

Position your company at the forefront of the Building Meaning movement: sponsor our National Keynote or our National "Beating the Bias" plan. Full details available by contacting Brian Dijkema.

Research proviso: In order to ensure the integrity of our research process, brand recognition will not be given on research portions of this project. For clarity, no brand recognition will be given in interviews, the discussion paper arising from said interviews, the round tables, or the final report. This research is being supported by our partners: Employment and Social Development Canada, the Canadian Building Trades, CLAC, NCLRA, and PCA.

Download the full Building Meaning brochure (five pages) here.


Media Inquiries

For interviews and footage, contact Naomi Biesheuvel, 905.528.8866 x31.


Why Cardus?

At Cardus, we understand that people are made to work. We are made to make things, to use both our minds and our hands to create. If we believe that certain types of work should be deemed second-rate—and if we create political, economic, and social structures to mirror that belief—we are demeaning ourselves, and doing harm to our society. Cardus has studied the intersection of work and economics since 2000.






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