Canada is a country with a rich history in manufacturing.
Canada has long been a leader in the manufacturing industry and has produced some great companies. Some of the world’s largest international companies have also built large facilities in Canada and created thousands of jobs for Canadian workers.
There are challenges, however, that Canada faces in today’s globalized economy. The Canadian economy has struggled to return to full strength after the pandemic. This is due in part due to an aging workforce, and an overall reluctance by younger workers to return to work. According to online trade magazine Manufacturing Automation:
“Anthony Meehan, publisher at Mediacorp, credits improvements in workplace culture to a number of factors. ‘Technology and globalization have changed the nature of employment and have accelerated the pace at which organizations rise and fall – you need to attract talented employees more than ever to make sure your organization is the one driving change, not the one being driven out by new competitors,’ he says.
Add to this Canada’s aging workforce and the declining share of young people entering the workforce and the result is a ‘perfect storm’ for employers trying to stay ahead.”
There does seem to be a recurring theme as Canada struggles to strengthen its economy.
One answer to the labor shortage may be to increase the number of women choosing to enter the manufacturing sector.
There are movements gaining traction inside the government as well as in the private sector to push this effort, including the “Women in Manufacturing” initiative, or WIM. The goal of these public and private initiatives is to advocate for more women to be hired and trained for skilled labour positions within the Canadian manufacturing industry.
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In this post, we’re going to discuss the need for women in the manufacturing industry and in the skilled trades inside the manufacturing space.
We’ll drill down into these 3 critical questions:
Why Is There a Need for Women in Manufacturing Roles?
What Can Be Done About the Gender Wage Gap?
How Can Companies Recruit More Women?
Let’s get started with the basics.
Why is there a need for women in manufacturing roles?
According to the World Economic Forum, there is a worldwide shortage of skilled trade and manufacturing workers. This is certainly true in Canada.
Women’s employment rates in Canada have not recovered as fast as men’s, and there is a huge pool of talented women who are ready to go to work. There are some great paying, highly skilled jobs in manufacturing, and Canada’s women are ready to embrace these high-value careers.
The bottom line is that there are some excellent unfilled jobs in manufacturing right now and there are plenty of women who would gladly take those jobs. There are even government and private sector initiatives to help women start careers in manufacturing. So what’s the holdup?
That’s a great question.
First, let’s talk about the Women in Manufacturing initiative.
Industry trade group Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, or CME, has a stated goal for its WIM initiative:
“CME supports an economic recovery that places more emphasis on women. To do this, measures must be put in place that promote the attraction and retention of women, particularly in the manufacturing sector. We must ensure that women are included at all levels in our organizations. Together, We Can Do It!” said Dennis Darby, President, and CEO of CME.
This is definitely a good start, but Canada has a long way to go. Also according to CME, women make up almost half of the Canadian workforce, but only occupy 28% of manufacturing jobs.
So what are the benefits of having more women in manufacturing?
Diversity increases innovation and provides balance in blue-collar environments and on management teams. Women bring acute perceptive and cognitive abilities to all levels of the workforce.
In general, more diversity in any workforce means that there is going to be more camaraderie, creativity, and innovation. Statistics show that companies are much more productive and employee retention rates will improve significantly with a more diverse workforce. That’s according to Glassdoor, and it’s music to the ears of manufacturing companies.
Having a diversity of opinions, genders, and backgrounds will generally foster better team problem-solving capabilities, because most decisions will be made by consensus. It also increases the likelihood that teams will have diversity in perspectives, giving rise to more creative ways to solve problems.
What can be done about the gender wage gap?
Let’s start by saying the quiet part out loud: there is definitely a gender-based wage gap in manufacturing and skilled trades in Canada.
So how do we minimize gender pay gaps?
There are reasons for the pay gap. Generally speaking, working women want to see more flexible work hours, shifts, and locations. This is especially true of working mothers who want the flexibility to be the primary caregiver in raising their children.
Less time worked normally corresponds to less pay. But there are no hard and fast rules.
Organizations like CME with its WIM initiative are working with governments all across Canada to advocate for equal pay for women in manufacturing.
The government is also getting involved. The Pay Equity Act, which was passed in 2018, is slated to go into effect on August 31, 2021. It will address gender-based pay gaps faced by women in federally regulated industries and job sectors.
Gender pay issues have unfortunately been around for a long time. And although they are not going away overnight, there has definitely been great progress made in the last several years.
So how can manufacturing companies recruit more women?
Education, training, flexible work, maternity leave, and child care options are great places to start. Mentoring programs, female leadership programs, equal pay, and benefits equity in the workplace are also great ways to attract more female employees.
Companies need to educate women about the opportunities available to them in manufacturing and skilled trades. They also need to make sure that female job seekers feel welcome. Women are often not aware that these high-paying jobs are even available to them.
Companies need to actively and assertively recruit female job applicants.
Manufacturing companies need to provide training opportunities for women.
“A major reason why there are so few women in manufacturing is that the supply of qualified workers is relatively small. Enrolment and credential statistics show clearly that women are heavily under-represented in the education and training programs that typically lead to production-related manufacturing employment.”
Companies are working with trade unions and local trade schools to attract more women into early training programs and apprenticeships. This is a good start, but more work needs to be done.
Manufacturing companies also have to make sure that they are making certification programs available to their female workforce and encouraging women to take advantage of these programs.
Creating a more inclusive environment.
Companies that want to create diverse work environments should implement diversity and inclusion strategies and policies throughout all levels of the organization, including leadership.
These programs can include a variety of approaches. Here are a few good ones to consider:
- Encourage and Foster Official Mentoring Relationships
- Encourage Internships for Women
- Encourage Career and Leadership Programs for Women
- Encourage Participation and Solicit Feedback from Female Employees In Meetings, Activities, etc.
- Have Documented Policies for Women to Pursue Promotions and Advancement
- Provide Diversity and Inclusion Awareness at All Organizational Levels
Show your team that every employee and staff member has equal value, an equal voice, and the same opportunities for advancement and growth.
There are definitely great career opportunities for women in manufacturing, and the future looks bright.
Women in the manufacturing industry will continue to play a critical role. They are often overlooked and underrepresented but female employees can make an enormous positive impact on a company’s bottom line.
Do you want to recruit more women into your manufacturing company’s workforce? We’ve got some great resources that will help you achieve that goal.
So what’s next?
Are you a woman considering a career in manufacturing?
Are you a hiring manager or human resources professional with open manufacturing jobs to fill?
Consider engaging with an established recruiting and staffing agency to help you with your search.
At HCR Personnel Solutions, we help great candidates find great employers every day!
Call us today at 416-622-1427, or get in touch online. Our expert recruiters are waiting for your call.