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CKCA by Sandra Wood
CMP, Executive Director, CKCA
Our job at CKCA is to listen to the industry and respond. We identify the common threads of conversation, we discuss it at the board level, and we take it through to our committees for action, these committees being comprised of industry volunteers like you. This is how we can take a concern or an idea you have, design a program or initiative, and then roll it out. The end goal is always about supporting and strengthening the industry.
One common thread of conversation over the past two years has been about the importance of staying connected as an industry community. I think everyone understands the value of face-to-face engagement now more than ever. For that reason, we are thrilled to be hosting our National Forum Sept. 28 - Oct. 1 in Waterloo, Ontario and we hope you will join us. Get ideas and solutions to some of your business challenges, network with your peers and learn from each other.
To help develop those connections, there are other channels including the CKCA Monthly Manufacturers Roundtable. These “shop talk” monthly gatherings on Zoom allow manufacturers to come together in an informal way to discuss whatever they want. The topics range widely, but what is evident is that everyone shares similar challenges and some are further along in the process than others and can offer advice. Topics range from contract negotiations, software, labour, pricing, machinery and the list goes on.

At one session we compared salaries on a specific position and determined that everyone was paying the same for that position no matter where they were in the country, it was actually a bit surprising. Want to pick up tips or gauge what others are doing? Participate in these free monthly sessions by contacting sandra@ckca.ca.
By now you’ve concluded that the labour shortage is here to stay, and that one size does not fit all when it comes to ways of addressing this complex issue. Companies are doing innovative things to hire and retain staff. Over the coming months CKCA will be launching Women in Kitchen Manufacturing because we recognize this is an untapped demographic that could help with the shortage. A study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has noted that only 2 per cent of 15-year-old female students indicated they were definitely planning to pursue a career in the skilled trades. So, while there are many very successful women in our industry running manufacturing shops, we want to get the attention of younger women to invite them to join our industry and see the possibilities that exist. We hope to have women in our industry participate in this initiative to mentor each other as well as to develop messaging to entice younger women into the sector.

The industry recognizes that colleges feed us with future employees. That’s why our National Forum event includes a visit to Conestoga College to meet students and educators in the wood program. We want to expand our reach to other faculties including engineering and design because our industry is hiring for many technical positions, and we need to engage beyond the woodworking programs.
With so many industries now soliciting from a smaller pool of younger talent, if we don’t raise our voice about the merits of working in our sector, then who will? We’re starting a campaign to speak about the many benefits of working in kitchen cabinet manufacturing and we need industry to participate. We’ll provide some tools that can be used when going into schools or bringing students to work during “Take your kid to school” day.

Employee retention is becoming even more important and we’re working with the Kaizen Institute and others to create training and support to help you as you curate the best culture for your company.
We’ve heard frustrations about the lack of understanding of our industry and that politicians and decision makers don’t think about kitchen cabinet manufacturing and yet we are so essential to the housing industry. We’ve prepared materials including industry data and will be engaging with all our members to start inviting MPs into their shops for tours. We’ll arm you with the information to tell your story to your local MP.
We listen to industry and work to create programs and initiatives that we believe can help. But these programs need participation in order to yield the positive changes everyone wants to see. It reminds me of that old saying, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Not really such an old saying, but instead a timeless truth.
We look forward to seeing you face-to-face or online. Reach out to us at info@ckca.ca if you’d like to learn more about these programs and watch for updates as we roll them out.

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