Canadian Manufacturing

CME publishes whitepaper calling for more immigration to address labour shortages

Manufacturers must go beyond the worksite to integrate new employees within their communities to ensure retention and engagement.

March 28, 2022   by CM Staff

WINNIPEG — With more than six out of ten manufacturers reporting labour shortages, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) has released a white paper and case study to try and address this pressing issue for the manufacturing industry. The association is also calling for a significant increase in immigration and has created a series of supports to help companies successfully integrate foreign-born workers into manufacturing workplaces.

“We look forward to working with CME on attracting more newcomers into Manitoba’s workforce,” said Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes. “The recent creation of the Immigration Advisory Council is working towards that goal, promoting Manitoba as a great place to live and work, with plenty of opportunities for all.”

Skill and labour shortages are a chronic issue for Canada’s manufacturers with over 77 per cent of businesses flagging issues attracting and retaining a quality workforce as a barrier to growth. Manitoba’s aging population only exacerbating the problem. Access to workers with the right skills and in the right place remains the top problem cited by industry leaders.

Says CME Vice President, Ron Koslowsky “The definition of skills needs to change – and quickly. While CME fully agrees with and supports the approach of how we link the skills of immigrants to the needs of some businesses, we must re-examine the points system and how we classify “high-skill” and “low-skill” jobs. Fewer workers puts additional stress on key industries and compounds supply chain issues; in particular manufacturing, agri-foods and trucking.”

Advertisement

By prioritizing economic class immigration, Canada could be better positioned to integrate this larger volume of immigrants into the workforce. Research shows that economic class immigrants have higher success rates at integrating and landing a job. This increase in immigration would help lessen the country’s labour shortages and provide a larger pool of workers for employers to pick from.

Andrea Aiello, CME’s Director of Workforce Development, acknowledges it’s not simply a matter of attracting foreign-born workers. Manitoba’s ability to retain immigrants must be viewed relative to our provincial counterparts. In rural areas outside of city centres, the challenge is even steeper. Using the 2014 data as an analysis point, Manitoba’s out-migration rate outpaces immigration, leading to a decline in the number of immigrants from the original cohort living in Manitoba of more than 25 per cent. Manufacturers must go beyond the worksite to integrate new employees within their communities to ensure retention and engagement.