Welcome to the WEdata Sector Blog Series where we review the supply and demand of labour for each of the region’s top sectors of employment. To read more blogs like this, visit wfwe.elev8webstudio.com/sectors.


About the Manufacturing Sector in Windsor-Essex

The manufacturing sector is the largest employer in the Windsor-Essex region employing 20% or 1 out of 5 (36,900) local workers in its 1,154 businesses, which in turn represent 3.4% of all the businesses in the region (Census 2016).

This sector has the most variation in business size with the most large scale employers. Eleven companies have more than 500 workers and another 40 have 200 – 499 employees, while also having 60% of businesses with fewer than 20 employees. In addition, about one-third of the 1,554 businesses are owner operated and have no employees at all. The subsectors of machinery and fabricated metal product manufacturing together make up 40% of all manufacturing businesses.

Demographics: The manufacturing sector has an overall gender ratio of 1 female to 3 males, a significant disparity. However, there are subsectors that have more gender parity such as beverage, tobacco, chemical, and food manufacturing, and printing and related support activities in which female workers represent 40-50% of the workforce. There are also sub-sectors in which the disparity is greater, such as metal and machinery manufacturing, where males employees make up more than 74% of the workforce. Males are also 5x more likely than females to be self-employed in this sector.

More than half (53%) of the nearly 36,900 strong workforce are between the ages of 35-54 years old. Of the other approximately 17,300, 16% are 25-34, and 11% are 15-24, 19% are 55 and over. This means nearly 20% of the workforce are nearing retirement age, which is reflected in the higher than average retirement projections for this sector (see below).   

Work Activity and Income: The median income of workers in year-round Full-Time positions is $62.5K, which is substantially higher than the national median income of $36.5K. The medians incomes of those in this sector working year-round Part-Time is $16.5K and those working Full or Part-Time for part of the year is $9.8K, which is half to one-third, respectively, of the national median income.

Education and Income: The largest proportion of manufacturing workers have high school diplomas (38%) as their highest educational level, followed by college-level certificates and diplomas (26%), and then university undergraduate or higher degrees (18%). Workers with apprenticeship or trade certificates represent 9.5% of the sector and almost 7% in the sector have not completed high school. Surprisingly, the number of workers with apprenticeship or trade certificates is relatively low, however, their median income, at $69.1K, is relatively high and is second only to workers with university degrees who earn $72K in this sector. The median incomes of all manufacturing workers is more than the national median income, except for those working Part-Time or less than a full year.   

Retirement: The occupational retirement rate in manufacturing is about 2.7% for the next seven years which is higher than the national rate of approximately 2% for all Occupations. Sector retirements projections are highest in the subsectors of Wood Product and Miscellaneous manufacturing with rates at 6% and higher over the next seven years. The lowest rates are in Printing and related activities at 4%, while the remaining manufacturing sectors have retirements rates between 4.5%-5.5%. (COPS 2017-2026 Projections).

Education and Training: The Enrollment by Institution page shows how many students are enrolled in post-secondary programs at colleges and universities across Ontario. Organisations and businesses can search for the programs and institutions that they recruit and hire graduates from to see recent enrollment numbers for specific programs and institutions. Many businesses in manufacturing and other sectors are concerned about the supply of skilled workers for their industry. Those businesses who want to attract the best and brightest talent are wise to be proactive and build relationships with education and training institutions and their instructors. Going even further to develop onsite opportunities for cooperative education and internship placements for students also gives employers an opportunity to test-drive potential employees. Everyone benefits.  One great initiative that happens annually in October, is the organization of Manufacturing Day locally. This North American wide event features the sharing of technology and careers in manufacturing with hundreds of local high school students. This is a partnership initiative between Workforce WindsorEssex, the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation and the local school boards. 

Automation: These projections indicate how much of a given occupation’s work activities could be automated. They reflect automation predictions that routine activities, such as predictable physical work and processing and collecting data, are more susceptible to automation, while those at low risk involve managing people and complex tasks employing expertise. While labour, equipment operation and testing, and fabricating tasks are at higher risk – over 60% – of being automated, manufacturing supervisory tasks are at low risk  – about 2% – of being automated.

While automation may lead to some job losses and task restructuring, it is important to keep in mind that the Talented Mr. Robot report and others have concluded that in actuality less than 5% of occupations could be completely automated. The authors suggest that mitigating the potential negative effects will take collaboration between all sectors to increase understanding of the implications, identify local technological strengths and opportunities, and provide education and training to those whose jobs will be impacted. They also acknowledge that automation in sectors is likely to be slower than initial predictions for multiple reasons, including as prohibitive costs, some technological advances are not occurring as quickly as predicted, and people’s preference that humans rather than machines to perform certain tasks.

Automation also brings the job creation potential in A.I. and robotics research, development, and manufacturing, which is particularly relevant to the Windsor-Essex region with its strong manufacturing workforce and infrastructure.   

In consultations with local employers, Workforce WindsorEssex learned more about the potential of automation in the Windsor-Essex region’s manufacturing sector. The common theme among manufacturing sector employers is the belief that lower-skilled positions, often requiring less education and qualifications, will be more susceptible to automation. This is evident in different types of manufacturing operations, as well. For example, employers in food manufacturing have stated there will be automation in picking and packing jobs. Another employer in automotive manufacturing stated, “we will see more automation in assembly,” but followed up this statement by adding, “more hiring of Controls Engineers instead.” The evidence from local employer consultations predicts that lower-skilled positions requiring less education will be more susceptible to automation. However, with the new technologies being introduced due to automation, these lower-skilled jobs will be replaced by higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs. For example, another manufacturing employer stated, “There will be automation, but we still need people to program and be computer-savvy. We now need two people instead of one in some robotics automation cases.”


Still craving more data?

If you’re interested in accessing even more data about the local Manufacturing sector, try exploring the ManufacturingGPS tool that was created by the Excellence in Manufacturing Consortium manages. Find out more about this tool and more at www.emccanada.org/manufacturinggps.

Sources: Census 2016; The Talented Mr. Robot (2016).  

Dive into the data of the Online Sector Dashboards at: