The manufacturing sector is still alive and well in Waterloo Region. The findings of
The manufacturing sector is still alive and well in Waterloo Region.
The findings of “Dynamic and in Need of Talent”, a report on local manufacturing, was presented at a breakfast in Kitchener today.
It was put together by the Workplace Planning Board of Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin in partnership with Canada’s Technology Triangle and the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.
The sector is still the backbone of the local economy. The latest numbers indicate an average of over 59,000 people work in the manufacturing sector here. That works out to about 20 per cent of the region’s total employment. It’s also an increase of over 8,000 since 2011.
The biggest challenge for employers is finding people to fill some of the skilled jobs that are available.
“The type of worker that’s required now is different than it was five years ago…We’re not seeing people entering the industry and looking for training…so that is causing a bit of a problem in finding skilled workers.” said Carol Simpson, Executive Director of the Workplace Planning Board of Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin.
Simpson thinks it’s the perception of the industry that is keeping people away due to layoffs in recent years.
She adds many of those skilled jobs pay between $20 and $30 and hour, with general labour jobs paying between minimum wage and $17.
“We’ve got almost 200 different types of manufacturing in this area, so the diversity is huge and really is our strength.” added Simpson.
The President of Conestoga College says a huge issue for the industry is there are not enough students coming out of high school with science, technology, engineering and math.
“We have a lot of applicants into our skills areas, but they’re not necessarily enough qualified applicants that have the math skills.” said John Tibbits.
Tibbits also says we need a national, provincial and local manufacturing strategy.
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