When you think about the Canadian economy, what comes to mind? For many people, it’s Canada’s oil and gas, natural resources, and manufacturing sectors. Yet, you might be surprised to learn that jobs in these industrial sectors make up less and one fifth of the Canadian workforce! Of course, there’s a waterfall effect, in that these types of jobs contribute to jobs in other sectors, however it’s still unexpected when you consider how vital these sectors are to the success of the Canadian economy. Below, we’ve compiled some of the most surprising stats about the industrial workforce in Canada. All data is from Statistics Canada.


industrial work accounts for 17% of the jobs in canada

There are 3.9 million industrial workers in Canada. This includes all jobs in manufacturing, construction and natural resource extraction (i.e. mining, fishing, agriculture, oil and gas). Though we often hear about how Canada relies heavily on natural resources and exports, particularly the oil and gas sector, the number of people who work in these fields is actually dwarfed by the 15 million Canadians who work in the service industry. Service-based jobs account for 83% of all jobs in Canada.

the number of industrial jobs is holding steady

Though there’s no denying that Canadian economy is mainly service-driven, we aren’t losing industrial jobs, either. Although the number of jobs in the manufacturing and goods-producing sectors hasn’t grown over the last 5 years, it’s not shrinking, either. Over the last 5 years, there has been only a marginal change in the number of people employed in the industrial sector. There was a less than 2% difference in the number of industrial jobs between the highest and lowest years in that period. In fact, last year (2017) was a growth year, which saw 42,000 industrial jobs added to the economy. 

the majority of industrial workers in canada work in manufacturing

Within Canada’s goods-producing sector, 44% of jobs (1.7 million) are in the manufacturing sector. Another 36% (1.4 million) are in construction. In a distant third, natural resource extraction (fishing, mining, and quarrying) makes up 8% (357,000) of the goods-producing sector. The oil and gas, utilities, and agriculture sectors, which many strongly associate with Canada economy, don’t even crack the top 3. For reference, the oil and gas sector accounted for 264,000 jobs in 2017, and utilities accounted for 134,000, and agriculture 279,000. 

men hold 3 times as many industrial jobs as women do

Okay, we’ll admit this one might not be surprising per se, but it does go to show that the industrial sector continues to be highly gendered, even in 2018. Though women have made some progress in closing the gender gap in fields such as tech and business, industrial sectors haven’t seen quite as much of shift. Blue collar jobs like manufacturing, construction and natural resource extraction remain male-dominated. As of last year, there were 3 million men working industrial jobs in Canada. Compare that to the 831,000 women working in the sector. That means there are more than 3 men for every woman in the industrial sector.

22% of industrial workers are 55 or older

One fifth (876,000) of industrial workers in Canada are 55 or older, yet just 376,000 are under age 24. This is concerning because as older industrial workers reach retirement age, there’s simply not going to be enough young workers to replace them. That means in the not-so-distant future, we’re going to have an industrial labour shortage on our hands, especially if we don’t encourage more young people to take up the helm in the industrial sector. This trend can be partly explained by the attitude that blue-collar work is less prestigious than white collar work. For decades, young Canadians have been encouraged to attain professional degrees and get into fields like tech, business and finance. That attitude will need to shift if we hope to offset a labour shortage. Of course, that’s easier said than done. 

unemployment rate for industrial workers is lower than the national average

In 2017, Canada’s overall unemployment rate was 6.8%. However, among industrial workers, the unemployment rate was 5.7%. In the manufacturing sector, the unemployment rate was just 3.4%. So disregard all those claims about how Canada’s industrial workers are being put out of work by automation and economic change. Canada’s industrial sector has been chugging along, and people who want to be employed in the sector continue to have no problem finding job opportunities.

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