On International Women’s Day and amidst Engineering Month, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters is launching the Women in Manufacturing Working Group. Designed to promote and inspire women to pursue careers in manufacturing, the initiative takes aim at the critical need to grow the domestic skilled labour pool.

“Our Women in Manufacturing Working Group stems from our Industrie 2030 initiative aimed at doubling manufacturing output by 2030,” noted CME President & CEO Dennis Darby. “Skills and labour shortages rank as the single biggest concern facing Canadian manufacturers today. Roughly 40 per cent of businesses face labour and skills shortages today. Five years from now, close to 60 per cent anticipate such shortages. To build a stronger skilled workforce in Canada, we must engage youth and women in manufacturing.”

While women account for 47.5 percent of the labour force in Canada, their representation in the manufacturing workforce sits considerably lower at 28 percent. Critically, the share of manufacturing jobs retained by employed women has, for the past 15 years, remains static at 5.6 percent compared to 13.1 percent of all men.

“It’s time to stop accepting women’s role in history of pursuing careers that are ‘traditionally feminine.’ We need to develop a national strategy that fosters women to study and work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields,” says Rhonda Barnet, Chair of CME’s National Board of Directors, VP Finance at Steelworks Design and a STEM graduate herself (B.Sc. in Mathematics).

The Honourable Kathleen Wynne and Rhonda Barnet

Held in Toronto with the Honourable Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and the Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, discussion at the inaugural meeting of the Women in Manufacturing Working Group focused on diversifying and growing the highly skilled workforce.

“Our government recognizes that the skilled trades are the backbone of our province’s economy. My colleagues and I are proud to support more Ontarians — including women and young people — to enter the skilled trades and contribute to a stronger economy. We want to make sure that anyone who wants to pursue a trade can put their skills to work, and help to keep our manufacturing sector at the leading edge,” The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario stated in a message to CME’s Women in Manufacturing Working Group members. “I commend Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and all members of the Women in Manufacturing Working Group, for their vital work in supporting and inspiring women to pursue careers in this key sector of our economy.”

To read the full press release from the CME, click here.