FABTECH Canada panel to discuss how women can help tackle skilled-workforce shortage

February 6, 2014

Recruiting qualified employees in the face of a declining workforce is a top problem facing today’s manufacturers. And solving it will require taking concrete steps to narrow the gender gap, say industry experts as they prepare for FABTECH® Canada, March 18-20 at the Toronto Congress Centre.

“Manufacturing today is more about brains than brawn,” said Allison Grealis, vice president of membership and association services at the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and director of Women in Manufacturing (WiM), a 400-member organization established in 2011 to support women in the manufacturing sector. Grealis will be moderating the FABTECH Canada opening-day panel discussion, "Diversity in the Workplace: Embracing Women in Manufacturing."

“If we’re going to fix the workforce shortage, we can’t just focus on half of the population," said Grealis. “We have to look at women as a viable solution to fill the gap and commit our industry to doing a better job of attracting, retaining, and advancing women in manufacturing.”

The opening-day discussion on diversity will kick off this year’s FABTECH show on Tuesday, March 18, at 8:30 a.m. with a keynote address by TV personality, metal fabricator, and race car driver Jessi Combs. Combs will share the story of her career in the manufacturing sector. In addition to proposing ways to attract women to manufacturing careers, the panel — which includes Natalie Panek, a mission systems and operations engineer with MDA Space Missions; and Karin Lindner, the founder of Karico Performance Solutions — will also highlight the benefits of a diverse workplace.

“Too many women of all ages and backgrounds don’t see manufacturing as a professional path because they aren’t aware of the many opportunities in today’s modern manufacturing facilities,” Grealis explained.

In Canada, women accounted for about 475,000 of 1,734,000 manufacturing jobs in 2013.

FABTECH Canada is hosted by SME, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl. (FMA), the American Welding Society (AWS), PMA, and Chemical Coaters Association Intl. (CCAI). For more information or to register, visit www.fabtechcanada.com or call 888-322-7333 ext. 4447.