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Canada's manufacturing industry is looking to hire, but they can't find qualified staff according to a new survey, the 2011 Manufacturing Barometer study from PwC. Of the 50 per cent of companies looking to hire within the next 12 months, the most sought after employees will be professionals/technicians (45 per cent), followed by skilled labour (26 per cent).

"The Canadian economy is experiencing a significant shortage of skilled workers at all levels, from welders and engineers to HVAC technicians,” says Calum Semple, Consulting partner and leader of the Operational Turnaround practice at PwC. "This is an opportunity for Canadians looking for skilled employment to boost their incomes, but they may have to be willing to be retrained and relocate, as many of these job opportunities are not in the big cities.”

The lack of skilled workers is not a new issue, as anyone in the manufacturing sector knows. The worker shortage comes at a frustrating time as industry gears up for a rebound. Indeed, 45 per cent of manufacturers said the lack of qualified workers was a significant barrier to growth.

This is particularly significant in the mining, energy and aerospace industry, sectors that are seeing much of the growth.

"While resource-rich industries are key drivers of demand; they also draw substantially on the supply of skilled workers,” says Semple. "Energy and mining companies are struggling to find qualified employees and their significant draw on employment is trickling down to their suppliers.”

PwC’s Manufacturing Barometer is a quarterly business outlook study and includes 38 Canadian-based manufacturers. It provides a 12-month outlook for revenue growth, M&A, new investments, hiring plans, emerging business trends, together with an outlook for US manufacturers.

See-saw of deal making
When it comes to deals, fewer manufacturers (26 per cent) are planning M&A activity and expansion to foreign markets than their US peers (35 per cent).The majority who do anticipate deal-making in 2012 said they will be making new strategic alliances (42 per cent), followed by new joint ventures (29 per cent). Less than a quarter will expand to new markets abroad (24 per cent) whereas almost 40 per cent of American manufacturers plan to do the same.

On the flip side, Canada continues to be an attractive place for foreign companies who are looking to new, more stable markets to grow their businesses and offset the concerns of an uncertain global economic environment. Mid-market deals in industrial manufacturing showed surprising resilience in Q3, up 7 per cent over the prior quarter. Interestingly, many industrial deals were in resource vertical sub-sectors, notable transactions included:

  • Canada’s EdgeStone Capital Partners sold Continental Alloys & Services Inc., a US based maker of pipes, tubes and bars used by energy companies, to Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. for $415 million.
  • Lufkin Industries, Inc., a US based supplier of oil field and power transmission products, acquired the assets of privately held Quinn's Oilfield Supply for approximately $303 million. Alberta-based Quinn’s manufactures specialty oilfield pumps.

"Recent deal-making is the first sign of strength we have seen in the industrial sector post-crisis,” says Semple. A third of the Canadian manufacturers surveyed also said they are planning new and major capital investments, investments as a percentage of total sales is moderate to high at 7.6 per cent.

Visit PwC for more details.


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