Survey finds Canadian Manufacturing Industry at risk

A shortage of skilled workers is threatening Canadian manufacturers' ability to adopt necessary technologies to scale and compete globally, according to a national survey by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).

As the business landscape becomes more complex and competitive, manufacturers are looking to technology to improve profits, but are thwarted by ongoing skills shortages, high purchase costs, and the ability to finance these new innovations.

One-third of manufacturers identified a shortage of skilled workers as one of their biggest barriers to technology adoption, as they cannot find enough workers with the appropriate skills to take advantage of the technologies.

The survey also shows that two out of five companies have not started or are in the early stages of digital transformation.

At the same time, the survey reveals that one out of four companies are not currently using any of nine digital transformation software solutions available on the market, like enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and that 10% have yet to adopt any of the advanced manufacturing technologies frequently associated with Industry 4.0, including cloud computing, robotics, and cybersecurity.

It also found that small manufacturers face greater barriers to technology adoption than their larger counterparts. Compared to medium-sized and large enterprises, companies with fewer than 100 employees reported lower confidence in their knowledge of advanced technologies and greater difficulty in obtaining financing for digital transformation.

"More than 90% of Canadian manufacturers are small businesses and play a crucial role in the supply chain of larger companies," says Dennis Darby, CME President and CEO. "We need more targeted government support for these companies to help accelerate technology adoption in our manufacturing sector or risk our economic competitiveness and standard of living."

Darby added, "There's no question that technology adoption is critical to meeting the challenges of intensifying global competition and an aging population, but Canadian manufacturers face many barriers that prevent them from taking full advantage of these solutions. This needs to change or Canada risks falling further behind on the world stage."

The complete results from the survey and further details are available here.