A skilled workforce is critical to the competitiveness of Ontario’s advanced manufacturing sector.

However, many manufacturers struggle to attract and retain skilled employees. Manufacturers also face particular challenges engaging women, younger persons, and racialized persons. These challenges are increasingly difficult to ignore and must be addressed.

To help address these challenges, the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing is engaging in a program of work focused on diversity and manufacturing. While this program of work will include several demographics and elements of diversity, our initial efforts focused specifically on women and manufacturing.

Working with our partners Build a Dream, we identified five Ontario manufacturers that have made significant progress on gender diversity (Honda of Canada Mfg., Sanofi Canada/Sanofi Pasteur, Muskoka Brewery, MAD Elevator, Cascades). Case studies of each company, as well as ten actionable lessons for manufacturers looking to increase gender diversity, are available in a recent report that can be found here. Gender diversity was also the subject of a recent episode of ‘Making it in Ontario’, the Trillium Network’s official podcast. This episode featured Kim and Simmie Thiara of AceTronic Industrial controls, who discussed the barriers to engaging women in manufacturing.

In the summer of 2021, the Trillium Network published a report on workforce development in Ontario manufacturing titled Bridges, not Barriers: Advancing Racialized Women in Ontario Manufacturing. The report features Ontario manufacturing workforce data analysis and six actionable lessons for improving workforce diversity initiatives in manufacturing. Moreover, thanks to the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC), the report also includes insight from current leaders: Peng-Sang Cau of ATS Automation, Kathy Cheng of Redwood Classics Apparel, and Niru Somayajula of Sensor Technology Ltd.

We are also developing a project that focuses on manufacturers and industries that have developed strategies to engage younger persons. This is increasingly critical considering that fewer younger persons are expected to enter the workforce over the next decade, leading to greater competition for their talent. Stay tuned for more on these and other projects over the coming weeks and months.