Canadian Manufacturing

Distributors and manufacturers adapting to talent acquisition challenges

by Sadi Muktadir   

Human Resources Manufacturing Operations Sales & Marketing Infrastructure COVID-19 distribution human resources In Focus labour Manufacturing pandemic workforce

Many manufacturers and distributors are adapting to a demand from employees and clients for improved health and safety measures at work sites.

Pam Warwick, Area Operations Manager

Wolseley Canada is a national distributor for HVAC, plumbing and parts services who’s had to adapt to the pandemic with regards to their hiring and talent acquisition practices. Many of the manufacturers they work with have also had to reassess values and change job descriptions to be able to attract top-end talent during the pandemic by highlighting their remote and virtual work from home advantages.

When the pandemic first hit, many skilled trades employees were out of work due to a shortage of work, and Steven Beggs, Director of Talent and Change Management at Wolseley Canada was asked about the growth in the talent pool.

“Luckily for us, in the distribution space, our talent pool has remained the same more or less. It’s been fairly consistent, and instead, making sure everyone was following proper protocols was important. We needed to transition all of our in-person interviews and hiring practices to a virtual environment,” he said. “Our job postings had to change to reflect the new environment and what people were looking for.”

Wolseley mentioned a new, increased interest among their staff and clients in touch-less technology, air purification products and a demand for investment in disinfecting products. While these are staples in the healthcare industry throughout the pandemic, manufacturers and distributors are outfitted with increasingly more high-tech disinfecting solutions, in part to attract talent.


“It’s important to highlight our efforts in our job postings, people are definitely concerned about that sort of stuff,” said Steven Beggs. “It’s not going away. We’re highlighting all of our wellness programs, employee resource groups and COVID-related efforts to separate ourselves from the competition.”

With many industries on the rebound in 2021, and manufacturers and distributors displaying confidence that the pandemic’s changes to our quality of life are here permanently, it will remain important to distinguish job postings and employment opportunities as having COVID-related protocols and supports in place.

When asked about whether we would ever see a drop in mask demand, or a return to manufacturing ‘as it used to be’ prior to health and safety measures, Jeremy Hedges, CEO of Canadian Shield was clear.

“Mask usage will remain at an elevated level for the next few years at least,” he said. “People have an increased concern for health and safety measures now. We’re kidding ourselves if we think these things are going to go away.”


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