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New labour market information report released

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WMC by Richard Lipman
Richard Lipman is president of the Wood Manufacturing Council. For more info email

The WMC is pleased to bring an updated Labour Market Information (LMI) study to the wood-processing sector. This is the fourth LMI study we have undertaken, and it provides current information on the sector and its HR trends and issues for all stakeholders to take advantage of.
We know that companies, educational institutions and governments have used the information from our previous studies to support initiatives that benefit industry manufacturers, workers and students etc.
There are many good things to acknowledge about the sector, and the study confirms it. Our sector is dynamic and growing and we have creative, talented and committed people running and working at our businesses, educational institutes and associations. Wood processing in Canada offers tremendous career opportunities for people. There are challenges at the same time. The sector’s human resource issues will become increasingly challenging if we collectively don’t take action. The report shows many businesses and stakeholders are aware of these challenges, and have taken steps to address them. To tackle these challenges properly, businesses and stakeholders need relevant, accurate information about economic trends, skills and occupational needs, recruitment barriers, training programs, and potential solutions. That is where the LMI study comes in.
We were pleased to have The Conference Board of Canada undertake this study “Advanced Wood Manufacturing Sector: Human Resources Trends and Issues Survey” for us, given their reputation as a premier independent research organization for Canadian business and educators.  The study confirms that the advanced wood manufacturing sector is an important contributor to Canada’s economy, employing approximately 88,000 workers today, and it is predicted to add another 7,900 workers by 2020.
Recruiting and retaining workers with the right skills is critical if the sector is to maximize its potential for growth. Our new LMI study outlines the current sector profile, which is essential to understanding and solving recruitment problems and other HR issues. The sector’s workforce is predominately male, and is older than the Canadian average. Wages in the sector are typically below those of other manufacturing sectors in Canada. Businesses in the sector face several human resources challenges, including a lack of qualified workers, the need for new workforce skills, difficulty attracting new workers, and difficulty replacing retiring workers and they need workers with more up-to-date skills. Businesses in the sector are taking a number of steps to overcome these challenges, including providing more in-house training, increasing wages, and developing more flexible work arrangements. However, more concerted efforts are needed if the sector is going to reach its full growth potential in the years ahead.
Skills and labour shortages affect advanced wood manufacturing businesses in several ways. These include reduced productivity, reduced profitability, reduced sales, and an inability to leverage new opportunities. Skills and labour shortages can also increase costs, especially when employers need to use overtime to complete projects on time. They also increase the effort needed to maintain existing lines of businesses, which reduces opportunities for innovation, and delays investments 
in new technology.
We commissioned the CoB to undertake this labour market study in part to move the discussion on skills and labour in our industry forward, to help close information gaps, and to provide research that will support actions to be taken. To do that they drew on several perspectives and methods; including a review of labour market statistics and original economic analysis, used to generate a 5-year labour demand forecast. They also obtained information and opinion through an online survey of employers and industry stakeholders, considered research on workforce and training needs and undertook extensive interviews with industry, educators, associations, etc. to learn about our HR trends and issues and to solicit possible solutions.
The report indicates that most businesses in the sector increased their in-house training to address worker shortages, retention, succession planning, skills gaps, and other issues. Survey results also suggest that businesses are working to eliminate the sector’s wage gap with other sectors. Nearly three-quarters of the advanced wood manufacturing businesses that the CoB surveyed increased their wages to respond to the skills and labour challenges they faced. Other strategies to address skills and labour shortages within the sector included: using flexible workweeks; and increasing other benefits and compensation packages.
The CoB concludes that Canada’s advanced wood manufacturing sector is at a critical point in how it goes about developing and maintaining a strong and stable workforce. Businesses and sector stakeholders—including industry associations, labour groups, educational institutions, and governments—recognize that they can do more to respond to the skills and labour challenges they face.
Businesses and sector stakeholders can improve their training, retention, marketing, and support strategies to help position the sector for growth and long-term success.
The CoB wraps up the report by providing some possible strategies for us to consider at the sector level in the areas of Support, Training (including promoting the value of professional certification and management training), Marketing and Engagement, as well as Training and Retention Strategies for businesses. 
Read more about some of the major trends and issues in the Advanced Wood Manufacturing Sector by contacting the Wood Manufacturing Council for a copy of the study and at:

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