Conestoga news

October 3, 2014 9:41 AM

New report outlines strategy for manufacturing sector success

A new report released today by the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington and Conestoga College explores the challenges facing the local manufacturing industry and outlines a series of action plans and recommendations designed to support the global competitiveness of the sector.

The Manufacturing Talent Strategy: Waterloo Wellington, prepared by Larry Smith of Essential Economics, was developed through consultation with industry groups, community leaders and stakeholder groups. It draws on a series of published reports from such groups as the Conference Board of Canada, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Organization, Deloitte and KPMG, as well as data from Statistics Canada.

The report, presented by Smith at a special luncheon event held at Bingemans in Kitchener, explores current and anticipated shortages of the skilled workers and talent required to ensure that the local manufacturing sector can compete successfully on a global scale, then provides action plans both for the industry as a whole and for priority occupations, where the number of those already working in the industry is close to the total number of those available.

"As firms strive to improve their global competitiveness, they need to focus on innovation and the talent that is needed to implement new technologies and processes,” said Barbara Fennessy, executive dean of Entrepreneurship & Applied Research at Conestoga College. “Given the importance of the sector to our local economy, the prosperity of our community depends on the continued development and success of our manufacturing industry."

Manufacturing is the largest employment sector in the local community and is often described as the backbone of the area's economy. In 2013, the sector represented 19 per cent of total employment in Waterloo Region and 19.4 per cent in Wellington County. Across Ontario, manufacturing accounted for only 11.3 per cent of total employment.

The report recommends a series of actions to attract, develop and retain manufacturing talent, including:

  • Focused communication to promote the strategic importance and scale of the local manufacturing sector
  • The development of a central website portal to promote the attractiveness of manufacturing employment
  • Additional outreach and recruitment to attract more students to educational programs that serve the sector’s employment needs, and to retain graduates within the community
  • A collaborative forum for the advancement of robotic and automation technology.
  • The Manufacturing Talent Strategy: Waterloo Wellington was developed with support provided by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. It is available online at