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Never mind Covid-19 restrictions and supply chain disruptions, the biggest challenge the metalworking industry faces over the next decade is finding skilled labor, says Marc Hasrouny and as president of the Canadian Machine Tool Distributors’ Association (CMTDA) he plans to make addressing this issue his top priority.

 

“Finding skilled labour has become the preoccupation of every business owner in the last five years and even more so since the start of the recovery. We hear this in every aspect of the recovery,” he told CMTDA members attending the association’s annual general meeting in Milton this week.

Hasrouny said many manufacturers are paying penalties for late production or are at the point of refusing contracts because they can’t find the skilled labor they need to get jobs done. Some are even considering relocating.
One in four companies need to fill 20% or more of their workforce. In fact, positions paying between $20 and $29 per hour are the most in demand in the manufacturing sector, according to Hasrouny. Among the hardest-to-fill positions are operators, welders, machinists, labourers, assemblers, technicians, mechanics and engineers.

“The current pool of workers is simply not big enough. The government must propose specific measures to address the labour shortage in the manufacturing sector and align its programs with the manufacturing sector to have a concerted and coherent overall vision that will have a real impact. It’s time to act,” Hasrouny emphasized.

He doesn’t plan on waiting for government to take the lead. Hasrouny will be reaching out to the different associations representing Canadian manufacturing to lobby governments at all levels as well as attempt to get colleges and high schools onboard with implementing strong measures to tackle the skilled labor shortage.

“We as industry leaders have a much bigger role to play if we want manufacturing in Canada to survive,” he emphasized.

He outlined four solutions he plans to bring to the table:

- Greater access to foreign workers: Increase the thresholds for permanent economic immigration and accelerate the admission process.
- Training and retention of the workforce: Better support and provide tools to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies that do inhouse training.
- Promotion and image of the manufacturing sector: Better promote the manufacturing sector to attract young people.
- Automation and robotization: Increase the financial support and technical coaching of manufacturing companies in the field of automation and robotization.

Hasrouny, who is from Megatel Inc, urged CMTDA members to join him in the fight.

“I strongly believe our industry’s survival is at stake. We are becoming less and less competitive. We have more to lose if it’s not addressed,” he said.

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