In 2024, manufacturing companies in Canada will continue to feel the effects of the labour shortage in Canada. 

As 47.4% of businesses in the Canadian manufacturing sector struggle to find skilled workers, companies must embrace new recruiting strategies.

One major challenge for manufacturers in Canada is they rank as one of the lowest-paying sectors. 

Since candidates are more likely to gravitate towards higher-paying jobs, attracting skilled workers can take a lot of work. 

To remain competitive and develop effective hiring practices, employers in the industry must understand workers' preferences and keep tabs on emerging manufacturing trends for 2024.

Man working on a manufacturing site, pulling a trolley.
Man working on a manufacturing site, pulling a trolley.

1. growing labour shortages

The labour shortage is driving many of the trends for manufacturing jobs—85% of manufacturers are having trouble filling open positions.

Labour shortages have been found in many manufacturing industries, including: 

  • automotive industry
  • natural resources 
  • food products manufacturing 
  • aerospace industry
  • machinery and equipment

Several factors are spurring the shortfall of skilled talent in the manufacturing industry in Canada, but one of the prime culprits is the aging workforce. 

The average manufacturing worker is much older than the average Canadian worker. 

In fact, 22% of these workers are aged 55 or older. This statistic means more than one-fifth of the nation’s manufacturing workers are inching closer to retirement.

Employers must find ways to deal with the current labour shortage and ongoing retirement rates in the manufacturing industry. 

In 2024, there'll be a focus on recruiting and retaining entry-level workers for Canadian manufacturers. 

Companies will start to upskill lower-level workers and reskill older workers to convince them to stay in less demanding jobs. 

The manufacturing industry can also develop mentorship programs where aging workers share their skills and experience with younger generations.

The government is planning to address the shortage by leveraging immigration. Temporary worker programs are in the works; if successful, they could give 500,000 immigrants a path to permanent residency.

2. broader talent pipelines

Traditional talent pipelines are needed in the manufacturing sector. With the significant skills shortage, the manufacturing industry in Canada must think outside the box regarding their recruitment strategies.

First, employers should focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in recruitment. Women make up just 28% of the manufacturing industry workforce

Manufacturing companies in Canada can attract more highly skilled workers by targeting women, immigrants and other underrepresented groups.

 It's also beneficial for employers to consider hiring candidates with transferable skills.

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3. advancement in digital technology and automation

There’s no denying that digital technology has transformed the manufacturing industries in Canada. 

In fact, studies suggest that globally, 1.7 million manufacturing jobs have already been lost to automation, and it's predicted that up to 20 million more jobs in the North American sector could be lost by 2030. 

The reality is that technology can create a faster, safer and more cost-effective manufacturing process. 

The industry 4.0 trend will be in full swing in 2024, bringing with it an increase in factory intelligence and digitized production. 

Companies will use AI to improve everything from inventory management and optimized orders to supply chain visibility.

Other technology-based manufacturing trends include:

  • 3D printing and manufacturing on demand
  • wearables to monitor safety situations
  • manufacturing internet of Things for predictive maintenance
  • data analytics for flexible production

Automation won’t, however, reduce the hiring demands for employers or play a significant role in closing the skills gap in manufacturing facilities. 

As automation increases, so will the need for workers with a high level of advanced manufacturing and digital skills. 

Immersive technology will enable workers to maintain systems from remote locations, which reduces the need for on-site staff. Companies will also need cybersecurity employees to protect assets and operations.

Manufacturers should shift their hiring practices now to target technically advanced candidates. 

They can also invest in upskilling and reskilling to help current workers succeed in a technology-heavy workplace.

4. faster hiring processes

Canadian manufacturing businesses must speed up their hiring process or risk losing top-talent candidates. 

It’s crucial for the manufacturing industry to streamline the recruitment process. 

This might include minimizing the application process, using technology to filter through applications and differentiating between nonnegotiable and optional skills and qualifications. 

A faster hiring process can enable manufacturers to hire high-quality candidates before their competitors.

5. unfavourable industry perception

The manufacturing industry in Canada has struggled with an image problem for quite some time. Many candidates view manufacturing work as hard and low-paying. 

This unfavourable view only works to hinder manufacturing hiring efforts.

Fortunately, manufacturing leaders are starting to take corrective action. 

In the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and The Manufacturing Institute (MI) have joined forces with Creators Wanted

The initiative uses a gamified mobile experience, immersive exhibits and hands-on activities to create a positive perception and entice young workers to consider manufacturing jobs.

Employers are attracting workers by offering higher salaries and meaningful benefits, such as:

  • flexible schedules (34%)
  • career advancement (32.5%)
  • skills development (23.5%)

Manufacturers are also dealing with the perception of poor sustainability. 

In 2024, more companies will start to take accountability for their environmental impact. There will also be a shift toward sustainability regarding energy sources, processes and materials.

Depending on their available resources, companies should either offer attractive non-monetary benefits or revise their remuneration packages to attract the most talented candidates and retain current employees.

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upskilling and reskilling talent 

In manufacturing industries in Canada, upskilling and reskilling talent are becoming crucial

As the manufacturing industry transitions towards sustainable manufacturing practices, employees must acquire new skills, such as working with:

  • recyclable materials, 
  • bioplastics, 
  • renewable energy sources, 
  • and digital manufacturing technologies. 

Plus, with the rise of AI and automation, the employee education and training landscape is undergoing significant transformations. 

Workers in the manufacturing sector must adapt to these changes by developing new competencies to stay relevant and competitive in the job market. 

Overall, upskilling and reskilling are the keys to navigating the dynamic future of work, both in sustainable manufacturing and in the era of automation and AI.

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