MRO Magazine

Skilled trades shortage, Siemens Canada

Human resources and maintenance departments can agree on at least one fact: the shortage of skilled trades is a national problem that shows no signs of easing in industrial manufacturing and technical sectors.


April 3, 2014
By PEM Magazine

The Randstad Canada Labour Trends Study 2014, polled 2,076 Canadian employees and managers on their expectations for the year. The results showed that a lack of skilled trades workers (16.3%), outsourcing of jobs or increases in numbers of international workers (15.2%) and a lack of skilled workers overall (9.9%) are the biggest issues that the country’s organizations are facing this year. Those in the Prairies (23.2%) and Alberta (21.6%) are most likely to feel that a lack of skilled trades workers is the single biggest issue.

The numbers match what’s been observed in the field. Christoph Arnold, vice president customer services, Siemens Canada, sees the skills shortage as a big challenge across the industry. “We have hot markets, if you want, on the labour side,” says Arnold. “We see increased demand on salaries and of people jumping from here to there. And this is a challenge for us.”

An area that Siemens Canada is particularly struggling with is to fill motor winder positions in its motor repair facilities. “We see an age increase in our labour across our eight plants. We are aging too fast and we have a big demand on bringing new blood. We see that the skills are not available and we have no other choice than to build up the skills sets by ourselves.”

Siemens — an automation, industrial control and drive technology firm — has taken the bull by the horns by developing its own talent pool through in-house training courses. Siemens hopes to bolster skills in its own ranks as well as to supply the demand from customers. “We dust off training materials from 20 years ago to develop co-op programs in partnership with training colleges and universities to develop the trades that are not readily available anymore,” says Arnold.


In doing so, Siemens hopes to nurture a long-lasting, sustainable approach by investing in training that will feed its repair facilities over the course of the next 10 years.