March 8, 2017

Women in Manufacturing Working Group

CME Media Release – March 08, 2017


To support, promote and inspire women to pursue careers in manufacturing to grow the domestic skilled labour pool in Canada.


CME’s national initiative to advance women in manufacturing will involve the creation of a CME member led, member-driven working group dedicated to supporting, promoting and inspiring women to pursue or choose a career in the manufacturing industry.

Working group members, women and men representing all sizes of CME member manufacturing firms from across Canada, together with the chair of the working group Elise Maheu, Director, Government Affairs, 3M Company Canada, will develop a national strategy and implement targeted actions aiming to support, promote and inspire women to pursue careers in manufacturing.

CME’s Women in Manufacturing Working Group will host its inaugural meeting in March. This meeting will allow the members of the working group to identify the group’s priority initiatives for 2017/18. The group will also work to create a report on the state of Women in Canadian Manufacturing. The report will be released in October at CME’s national manufacturing conference in Ottawa.

CME’s Women in Manufacturing initiative stems from one of CME’s Industrie 2030 recommendations to improve engagement with youth, women and under-represented in manufacturing careers to grow the domestic skilled labour pool. In 2016 CME released Industrie 2030: Manufacturing Growth, Innovation and Prosperity for Canada, an action plan resulting from the input of more than 1,250 Canadian manufacturers and exporters. The plan defines specific recommendations to overcome challenges and create a roadmap for the future of manufacturing.


According to CME’s 2016 Management Issues Survey, 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.

These shortages stem from three primary sources. First: an inability to attract youth, women and other under-represented into skilled trades relevant to manufacturing. Second: a disconnection between the formal training system and industry needs. Third: an aging workforce.

These shortages are driving up costs and eroding our global competitiveness. This is causing businesses to forego production opportunities, and delay investment. A lack of a sufficiently-sized and skilled labour pool is directly impacting the growth of manufacturing in Canada today, and will continue to restrict growth moving forward if substantial changes are not made.

In 2016, CME launched Industrie 2030, a national strategy to leverage the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and usher in a new era of manufacturing strength in Canada. To support the building of a stronger skilled workforce in Canada, CME’s Industrie 2030 action plan recommends improving engagement with youth, women and under-represented in manufacturing careers to grow the domestic skilled labour pool. This must include better education and information about careers in manufacturing, better detailing career paths and opportunities, and strengthening education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

It also involves changing the perception of manufacturing. Many Canadians still believe that a job in manufacturing is one filled with monotonous assembly-line tasks, or one where the work environment is dark, dirty and dangerous. These lingering perspectives bear little resemblance to the modern-day innovative and technologically-advanced manufacturing operation. They do, however, deter women from pursuing careers in manufacturing-related fields.

In Canada, women account for 47.5 per cent of the labour force but only 28 per cent of the manufacturing workforce. What is even more alarming, there has been no increase in the share of manufacturing jobs held by women over the last 15 years. In comparison only 5.6 per cent of employed women in Canada have a job in manufacturing compared to 13.1 per cent of all men.
Attracting more women into manufacturing professions is critical to help companies grow and to replace the existing and aging workforce.


CME has begun to seeking engagement of members and partners interested in participating in our Women in Manufacturing initiative. For more information, contact Marie Morden at