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Saskatchewan manufacturers outline action plan to grow the industry

Published by Derek Lothian on November 26, 2013

Saskatchewan needs a comprehensive strategy to nurture the province as a preferred destination for manufacturers to locate, invest, export from, employ and grow, according to a new, five-point action plan released today by the Saskatchewan Manufacturing Council – a group of more than 35 leading industry executives.

The plan, tabled during Saskatchewan Manufacturing Week (November 25-29, 2013), calls for new supports to boost productivity performance amid a growing skills gap, enhance the image of manufacturing, better align public investment with the needs of business, ensure a balanced approach to infrastructure renewal, and improve the climate for the sector's overall competitiveness. In 2012, manufacturing employed roughly 27,000 Saskatchewan residents, generating more than $14 billion in sales and close to $45 billion in total economic activity.

"These are more than just numbers; they tell a story of a sector at the forefront of global competition, innovation, and technological change," explains Derek Lothian, executive director of the council – an initiative launched earlier this year by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). "The companies within it however are also competing with the world's best. And to succeed, they require a business climate that is equally world-class."

Among the 18 specific recommendations, the council calls for the creation of a Saskatchewan Manufacturing Centre of Excellence – a project recently announced by Premier Brad Wall in his annual Speech from the Throne. The proposed centre aims to help companies capitalize on an estimated $1 billion in lost sales due to workforce deficiencies, and encourage more youth and First Nations to explore career opportunities in manufacturing.

"The reality is that other jurisdictions are moving aggressively to develop their value-added manufacturing base and create high-paying jobs," says Lothian, who points out that the sector pays wages, on average, 15 per cent higher than the provincial average. "These are the types of jobs driving our communities - both urban and rural. Saskatchewan manufacturers have the products, the ingenuity, and the passion to lead the world; our job is to ensure they have to tools they need to make that happen."

To download a copy of the plan, visit http://bit.ly/saskmfg.

For mor information about the Saskatchewan Manufacturing Council, including a full list of members, visit www.saskmanfuacturing.ca.

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