Educan Celebrates BC Manufacturing Month

October 31, 2022

Here are 3 ways Educan is supporting local jobs post-pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked unprecedented supply chain issues and exacerbated BC’s skilled labour shortages. This October, Educan celebrated the province’s annual Manufacturing Month, which aims to grow the industry and, at present, help pave the path for economic recovery. 

In 2021, there were almost 170,000 people employed in manufacturing in BC, and their weekly earnings were almost 17% higher than the provincial average. This is an exciting prospect for those hoping to advance their careers post-pandemic. 

Despite the opportunities, however, more than 85% of manufacturers in Canada struggle to fill vacancies, according to a recent survey, and the industry is often overlooked by job seekers in an economy known for natural resource industries and service jobs in the cities. Many workers lack trade skills, and more could be done to support manufacturing at the government level. BC’s Manufacturing Month helps raise the industry’s profile with key stakeholders including law-makers, youth, and the public. 

 As a manufacturer of school and office furniture in Abbotsford, BC, Educan has first-hand experience with both the recent supply chain issues and skilled labour shortages. Nevertheless, the company is proud to be “made local” — providing faster lede times, close-to-home customer service, and supporting local workers. Here are three things we’re doing to promote manufacturing at home:

Youth education

Careers in the trades are too often stigmatised as ‘less than’ careers requiring university degrees. As a result, many youth will never learn the valuable technical skills that open the door for career advancement in manufacturing industries. The good news is that these attitudes are shifting. More resources are now available for both youth and adults in Canada to ‘upskill’ and move into STEM fields. 

 Manufacturing school furniture means Educan has a special interest in youth Education (with only somewhat selfish motivations). Not only are schools our biggest customer, but our summer workers program primarily hires students to help meet our rush-season orders. Our small operation gives youth the opportunity to see the whole manufacturing process, including welding, tube bending, woodworking, painting, assembly, and shipping. In addition, we have offered engineering internship opportunities for students from local universities. 

Women in the workplace

Women are the largest untapped population to address the skills and labour shortage in 

Canada, according to the Canadian Manufactuers and Exporters (CME). While they account for 48% of the Canadian workforce as a whole, they make up only 28% of the manufacturing workforce. To increase these numbers, the industry needs to attract more women to STEM fields, combat the ‘boy’s club’ reputation in manufacturing, and find better solutions for work-life balance. B.C. ‘s Women in Manufacturing’s (WIM) ‘We Can Do It!’ campaign aims to do just that by adding 100,000 women to the manufacturing workforce by 2030. 

 At Educan 42% of our manufacturing employees are women — from the paint line to the wood shop to the assembly line. We are actively seeking to make our hiring process more inclusive and our business a welcoming place for everyone. 

Building relationships with BC customers

Schools in BC and Alberta have been Educan’s primary customers for over 25 years. Their ongoing support is what allows us to continue operating locally and providing skilled jobs to BC workers. We hope to continue building and expanding on those relationships in the future.