Manufacturing is a significant contributor to BC’s economy. Manufacturing remains the second largest employer within the BC goods-producing sector and the seventh largest employer overall. Employment growth in the manufacturing sector grew much faster than employment in all other industries in BC. In 2015, the sector contributed 10% of provincial GDP. Manufacturing is the primary source of exports for BC, not natural resources, comprising almost 65% of shipments. More than 30% of all business taxes flowing to government come from manufacturing.
Unfortunately, manufacturers in the province face a number of barriers which constrain their growth potential.
The Alliance has set the following as the most important policy priorities requiring positive change:
1. INCREASE RECOGNITION OF WHY MANUFACTURING MATTERS
The design and production of a lot of amazing, world-class products in BC results in significant economic contributions. Manufacturing represented almost a third of new job creation in 2015 in the province. BC has led the country in manufacturing job growth. The industry pays almost one third of the provincial business taxes. For every dollar invested in the industry the return to the community is $3.50. No other industry has a comparable ROI. Manufacturing matters and needs to be better reflected in strategy and policy decisions.
2. ENHANCE SKILLED LABOUR DEVELOPMENT
Labour shortages remain the number one challenge facing businesses in BC which undermines competitiveness and growth. In order to attract more Canadians to the manufacturing workforce, industry also has to work with government to change the mindset of parents, youth and job-seekers so they see that manufacturing jobs are cool and well paid. It is important to challenge outdated stereotypes about manufacturing and attract youth to well paying high-skilled jobs.
3. IMPROVE INDUSTRIAL LAND AVAILABILITY
Industrial land is in short supply and what is available is expensive. It is estimated that by 2030 all industrial land in the Lower Mainland will be exhausted. A lot of land is being held by developers for residential opportunities squeezing job creators further out of town. Land costs too much to purchase and service. Property taxes keep going up. BC needs to develop a policy to protect industrial land and explore an industrial land reserve in order to prevent businesses moving to lower-cost jurisdictions like Alberta and Washington.
4. ENCOURAGE INNOVATION
BC manufacturers spend less than the national average on both R&D and capital investment. Businesses need to be encouraged to create ideas and turn them into products. Fostering more investment in technology will help manufacturers improve productivity and be more competitive. Innovation also create opportunities for advanced skills. Government should adopt a leadership position with respect to encouraging more manufacturers to pursue innovation so the province can grow new advanced technology and industrial clusters. This requires reforming and simplifying tax incentivization schemes so they target and promote advanced manufacturing industries.
5. PROMOTE PROCUREMENT & EXPORT OPPORTUNITIES
This is the generation of opportunities. Unfortunately many go unrealized by BC-based businesses. Mega-projects should create opportunities for BC manufacturers to be suppliers. Companies need sufficient time to become certified against various procurement standards and build capacity to successfully participate in supply chains. BC businesses are also not aggressively pursuing the new opportunities in the global economy to increase their sales. Even though 63% of the province’s exports are value added manufactured goods, thousands of companies have yet to export. Business making investing in supply chain upgrades and certifications is an important step.
6. FOSTER A SAFETY CULTURE
Nothing is more important than safety. At the end of the workday every worker deserves the right to go home to his or her family uninjured. The lack of improvement in safety rates does not reflect the significant investments being made by government in promoting safety. Manufacturers require safety partners and a safety association that recognize and respond to their needs for practical safety improvements. Manufacturers also need to fully embrace fostering a safety culture in their workplace.