The manufacturing industry is evolving at a rapid pace. It's becoming a new industry as artificial intelligence, automation, and robotics become more entrenched. A lot of research is being done, and new ways of doing things are emerging. The skills and experience companies need are changing. The impact of tech on manufacturing is creating talent scarcity in this niche. However, this is also creating new opportunities for engineers in this space. There is a place for engineers in manufacturing.

there’s a place for engineers in manufacturing
there’s a place for engineers in manufacturing

what are the current manufacturing growth trends?

The manufacturing sector has had some ups and downs over the last few years. However, it remains a crucial part of the Canadian economy, and engineers have many career opportunities. 

As with many other sectors, manufacturers need help attracting talent. 

“In a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), almost three-quarters of surveyed manufacturing executives feel that attracting and retaining a quality workforce is their primary business challenge,” according to the 2024 manufacturing industry outlook by Deloitte

This is an opportunity for engineers to break into the industry, especially as talent is moving to different sectors within the industry. 

Talent is moving sectors for a few reasons. They are moving sectors to go for a pandemic-proof sector. They want greater job security, especially when there is some economic uncertainty. 

There is also greater flexibility than ever for individuals with transferable skills. Manufacturers are now focusing more on soft skills when assessing candidates. So, there are new opportunities for people outside the industry. 

Different regions in Canada have slightly different trends, with the central region leaning towards clean energy and electric vehicle manufacturing, while the west focuses more on oil and gas. The expansion of electric vehicle manufacturing in Canada introduces new industries and skills.

The use of AI and machine learning is growing in manufacturing. Engineers working on AI applications and algorithms are in demand. This is similar to the engineering field. The post-COVID market has heavily emphasized automation, driven by talent shortages and the need to adapt to remote work.

Engineers specializing in key manufacturing verticals such as food, aerospace, automotive, and industrial are especially in demand.

which specific engineering fields currently offer the best job opportunities in manufacturing?

The need for mechanical and industrial engineers will remain in high demand.

Mechanical engineering new job openings from 2022-2031 are expected to total 12,700. This stems from expansion demand and replacement demand. There are expected to be 3,800 job openings for Industrial engineering roles. This includes industrial and manufacturing engineers & metallurgical and materials engineers.

what are the most in-demand engineering roles and skills in construction? 

Demand is high for mechanical engineers, manufacturing engineers, industrial engineers, and those with experience in procurement. Here, we highlight the most in-demand roles:

mechanical engineers

Mechanical engineers play a vital role in various industries, including manufacturing. The key responsibilities in their roles include design, analysis, and maintenance of mechanical systems and machines. Industries in demand are aerospace, automotive, and chemical.

  • technical skills: analytical thinking, developing next-generation products, implementing sustainable practices, automation, robotics, research and development, digital fluency

  • soft skills: communication, collaboration, adaptability, continuous learning, innovation, creativity

manufacturing engineers

Manufacturing engineers focus on optimizing manufacturing processes, systems, and products. Industries in demand include steel, automotive, and packaging.

  • technical skills: conceptual design, lean manufacturing, material science, product design, process control

  • soft skills: communication, analytical thinking, collaboration

industrial engineers

Industrial engineers can help manufacturing firms enhance their productivity, performance, and profitability. Industries in demand are machinery and energy.

  • technical skills: advanced analysis, simulation tools, information modelling, sustainable and resilient design 

  • soft skills: innovation, continuous learning, communication, collaboration

procurement (buyer, master planner, supply chain management)

Procurement professionals ensure companies have the goods and services to meet operational requirements. In procurement, there's a trend towards more flexibility across sectors, with employers becoming open to candidates from various industries with solid negotiation and procurement skills. Some professionals shifted to what they considered pandemic-proof sectors like food, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing during the pandemic.

  • technical skills: sourcing, market analysis, contract management, data analysis, negotiation

  • soft skills: sustainability, ethical procurement, agility, communication

stand out in the engineering sector with these other tips

Check out our articles to gain new knowledge and skills that will help you stand out in this ever-changing field. 

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what technical skills and competencies are manufacturers looking for in engineers?

Organizations in the manufacturing industry are interested in engineering professionals. They are particularly looking for engineers with the following skills and experience:

  • proficiency in computer-aided design (CAD)
  • computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software experience
  • process improvement
  • lean manufacturing principles (Familiarity with Six Sigma, Kaizen, and 5S methodologies is highly valuable)
  • knowledge of project management software and tools
  • knowledge of quality management systems and tools such as ISO 9001
  • collaboration and teamwork skills

how can engineers stand out from other candidates when vying for roles in manufacturing? 

Engineers can distinguish themselves in the job market by demonstrating their technical proficiency, process improvement, project management, quality control, and interpersonal skills. They can also showcase their achievements, innovations, and contributions to the industry through their portfolio, resume, and accomplishments.

Certification is also one vital way to stand out. Some of the additional certifications that can enhance their knowledge, credibility, and competitiveness in the field:

  • P. Eng. Designation
  • Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CMfgE)
  • Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (CLSSBB)
  • Certified Six Sigma Green Belt (CSSGB)
  • Certified Quality Engineer (CQE)
  • Certified Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)
  • PMP

what are the top challenges engineering professionals must overcome in the manufacturing sector?

Improvement and digital transformation are the most significant trends in the manufacturing sector in 2024.

The rapid change in technology and innovation, such as robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, and digital transformation are creating opportunities and challenges for engineering professionals in the manufacturing sector. 

Automation will help engineers design, test, and optimize products and processes faster and more accurately. They will also reduce human errors, downtime, and waste.

But the main challenge is staying up with digital transformation in manufacturing. Engineers must keep up with the latest developments and trends, be creative, adaptable, and problem-solving, and embrace a culture of continuous learning.

work with Randstad, your partner for talent!

As Canada’s leading provider of recruitment solutions for engineering, Randstad works closely with its manufacturing industry partners to understand their staffing needs and opportunities. When you meet with our engineering recruiters, your business gains access to Canada’s top engineering and manufacturing talent.

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