Policy Submissions & Government Consultations

Expanding the Skilled Labour Pool


Labour and skills shortages are the most pressing challenges facing manufacturers today. CME is working to expand the labour pool; improve education programs; and lower the cost of on-the-job training.

Why It Matters

Access to a large, high-quality workforce is critical to manufacturing success. It boosts output, productivity, and profitability. It also drives innovation and is vital to taking the fullest advantage of new technologies and production methods.

CME’s 2022 Labour and Skills Survey, which received responses from 563 manufacturers from across the country, shows just how much labour and skills shortages are hurting the Canadian economy:

  • In the last year alone, labour and skills shortages in the manufacturing sector cost the Canadian economy almost $13 billion, a consequence of lost sales, penalties for late delivery, and postponed or cancelled investment projects.
  • For the second consecutive year, more than 80% of manufacturers reported facing labour and skills shortages, up sharply from 60% in 2020 and 39% in 2016.
  • 80% of manufacturers reported that labour shortages in related sectors, like transportation and logistics, are also negatively affecting their business.
  • 15% of manufacturers are considering moving some or all their production outside Canada due to a lack of workers, indicating that labour shortages are also limiting the sector’s future growth prospects.

Watch the "Future of Work in Manufacturing" Webinar


Supporting workplace training


According to CME’s 2020 Management Issues Survey (MIS), skilled labour shortages is the most important issue facing manufacturers today. Companies are playing a growing role in workforce training because too few students are graduating from relevant programs; and because of the increasingly-specialized skills requirements for advanced technologies and production processes.


Labour and skills shortages are a major obstacle to operational efficiency, productivity, technology adoption, and innovation. The MIS tells us there are four main barriers preventing manufacturers from investing more in on-the-job training:

  • They are too busy to afford the down time;
  • They are concerned about losing their investment should their employees leave;
  • The cost of training programs is high; and/or
  • There are no existing programs that fit their specific needs


On-the-job training is needed to supplement post-secondary education and to adapt to technological advancements. CME helped develop and design the Canada Job Grant, advocated for the Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit, and pioneered the development of work-integrated learning (WIL) programs in Canada. We continue to push for expanded federal and provincial supports for on-the-job training. Our focus is on:

  • Improving the Canada Job Grant with more funding, easier applications, multi-year training approvals, and allowances for in-house training;
  • Working with manufacturers to increase their commitment and funding for WIL;
  • Increasing government support for WIL, especially for those businesses that can leverage their training assets to help other businesses in their supply chains.

Attracting more women to jobs in manufacturing


Women account for only 28% of the manufacturing workforce. Female under-representation is especially a problem in production-related occupations, with women holding less than 5% of all skilled trades jobs across Canada. Attracting more women into manufacturing professions is critical to helping companies grow and replace the aging workforce.


Labour and skills shortages are the biggest issue facing manufacturers today. According to CME’s Management Issues Survey:

  • 69% of respondents face immediate shortages; 75% expect shortages within the next five years.
  • Skills shortages is the top barrier to new product innovation
  • Access to skilled labour is the most important factor businesses consider when deciding where to make their next major investment.
  • Women represent a vast and relatively untapped resource that offers a solution to these problems.


CME is dedicated to supporting, promoting and inspiring women to pursue careers in manufacturing. Our campaign, We Can Do It, is aimed at increasing the number of women in manufacturing by 100,000 in 5 years. We Can Do It will focus on the following initiatives:

  • Engage and Inspire – Develop the pipeline of qualified women by promoting STEM and skilled trades career options to young women and girls.
  • Attract and Retain – Increase the number of women entering and staying in the manufacturing workforce.
  • Empower, Support and Accelerate – Help women achieve success in the workplace by breaking down barriers to their personal and professional growth.

Challenges & Solutions


Not enough young Canadians are choosing to pursue a career in manufacturing. The education system puts a premium on university paths at the expense of skilled trades. As a result, students are not connected to the jobs available.

Solution: Promote manufacturing and realign the education system to create 150,000 new full time jobs for youth in manufacturing.

  • Promote Careers in Manufacturing to Youth
  • Refocus Canada’s Education System to Connect Youth to Jobs
  • Create Regional Industry Councils
  • Expand efforts to attract women and under-represented groups into manufacturing


Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the cost of training. Upskilling workers is the first step businesses must take in order to invest in automation, new machinery and equipment.

When this does not happen, innovation and competitiveness suffer.

Solution: Create incentives for employers to enhance investments in training

  • Create an Employer Training Tax Credit
  • Help Employers Expand
  • Work-Integrated-Learning Offerings
  • Invest more in management training capacity


Manufacturers are increasingly using immigration to supplement their workforce but there are not enough immigrants to meet the demand. Temporary worker programs are becoming increasingly burdensome and costly to use.

Solution: Reform Canada’s immigration system to bring in 500,000 economic class immigrants.

  • Increase economic immigrants to 500,000 a year
  • Update Canada’s immigration point system to align to employer needs
  • Expand current Provincial Nominee Program
  • Better leverage Canada’s post-secondary system
  • Enhance Temporary Foreign Worker Program