After years of struggling, Quebec’s manufacturing industry is boasting record growth but it is facing a stumbling block: labour shortages.
The provincial government announced on Monday measures to help as small and medium-sized companies have to hustle to find enough workers.
“The labour shortage is more and more critical,” said Richard Blanchet, the president of an association of Quebec-based manufacturers called the Sous-traitance industrielle Québec (STIQ).
It is the smallest companies, which have between 10 to 19 employees, that are struggling to find workers.
The sector has seen considerable growth over the past two years, according to the STIQ’s Quebec industrial barometre. However, Quebec’s manufacturers are only concentrating on keeping up with the demand they already have rather than developing new customers and growing because they do not have enough employees.
“I had one guy say, ‘If I could just find 10 industrial technicians… I could take more orders tomorrow morning,'” Blanchet said.
The Coalition Avenir Québec government has set aside almost $900 million over five years to keep older employees in the workforce longer.
“Their experience is an asset. They can share their knowledge and play the role of mentor,” said Labour Minister Jean Boulet.
The government is also providing tax incentives for older workers and will lower some payroll taxes for employers. Yves-Thomal Dorval, president of the Quebec employers’ council or the Conseil du patronat du Québec, commends the measures by the government.
“It’s exactly what we are looking for,” he said.
Dorval said the solution to the labour shortage is finding a balance between keeping older employees in the workforce as long as possible, providing good education for students, giving ongoing training for young employees and attracting skilled immigrants.