2:18 | Posted January 14, 2018 | 10:12:00With manufacturing moving into China, some Canadians are wondering if the country is going to lose its jobs.
The federal government is looking to fill the voids, saying it is trying to make it easier to bring back manufacturing.
But the industry is in limbo as the country struggles with a lack of skilled labour.
The manufacturing sector is the only one of the major export sectors in the country that is still growing, said Chris Warkentin, chief executive of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
Manufacturing accounted for 2.4 per cent of the country’s GDP in 2018, up from 1.8 per cent in 2018.
That’s not good enough to keep up with China’s rising population, Warkinen said.
“The question for Canada is, what are we doing to get those skilled workers?” he said.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for Canadian businesses to grow, and the challenge is, can we grow it in a way that is sustainable?”
Manufacturing is key to Canada’s economy, said John MacLennan, president of the Canada Manufacturers Association.
“We’re exporting the knowledge, technology and experience to other countries,” he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
Manufacturers need more skilled workers, but many are still reluctant to return.
A lot of people are leaving because they can’t afford the extra costs associated with moving to China, said Warkin.
It’s not just manufacturing that is hurting, he said, adding that the lack of quality of life is also a problem.
“I don’t think you have a great economic outlook.
We’re in a recession right now.
We’ve got a lot going on, and a lot is going on behind the scenes.”
For many manufacturing workers, the outlook is not good.
According to the B.C. Labour Force Survey, Canada’s manufacturing sector lost 2,100 jobs in the third quarter of 2018, down from a year earlier.
It’s the worst quarterly loss since 2008.
The downturn has hurt the country on multiple fronts, including a sharp drop in construction and a drop in manufacturing employment.
In the fourth quarter, manufacturing employment fell by 8,000 jobs, according to Statistics Canada.
The country is still seeing a boost from the construction industry, which has added about 800,000 new jobs since the start of the year.
Even so, Wargentin said he expects some of the industry’s jobs to be lost because of China’s slowdown.
With Chinese wages growing so fast, the country can afford to import a lot more of what is already here.
Canada is still a big exporter of cars and machinery, he added, adding Canada could be able to sell more of its products in China if it can attract more foreign-made products.
Wargentin believes that can happen, and said his association has been talking with governments around the world to try and make sure the industry can stay in Canada.
“We want to make sure we’re not losing the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector.
We want to keep it in Canada,” he explained.
But the federal government needs to do more, Wartentin said.
Canadian manufacturers need more skills to keep growing and grow the economy, but the government has a long way to go in getting them, he continued.
For now, he is calling on the government to look at ways to bring manufacturing back in Canada, but he said he is not sure how long it will take.
MacLennin said the industry needs to keep looking for skilled workers in Canada in order to keep the economy growing.
He said the BMEs need to work with the government on how to create more manufacturing jobs.
As the global economy continues to grow and as the Canadian economy slows down, the industry must continue to be competitive, he explained in an email.
However, he did say he hopes the government’s new job creation measures are able to make a difference.
This article was originally published in The Globe & Mail.