The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC) conducted its first Business Walk of 2016 with manufacturing and aerospace companies April 18-22. Of the 40 companies interviewed, 35% of the businesses rated their current environment as fair or steady and 55% as positive or growing, representing 90% of the businesses.

In contrast to the COEDC’s Business Walk Survey in 2015, where the majority of employers said they were having difficulty filling positions, only 35% of manufacturers interviewed indicated difficulties finding employees with the skill sets they required in 2016.

The April Business Walk saw industry stakeholders connect with businesses ranging in size from two to hundreds of employees representing a broad range of manufacturing and aerospace specialties and capabilities.

Other highlights from the Manufacturing/Aerospace Business Walk:

  • An increase of 17.4% in employee numbers was projected by the businesses over the next 3 years – from 1,618 to 1,900 full time, part time and contract/temporary employees.
  • 48% of the manufacturers expected their total number of full time employees, specifically, to increase. Companies engaged in the manufacture of boats, products for the aviation industry, home construction and metal fabricating projected the greatest increase in full time employees over the next 3 years.
  • 65% of the manufacturers said they were not having difficulty finding employees with the skill sets they required. Of the 35% of businesses that were experiencing difficulty, hard to fill positions included plumbers, electricians, electronic engineers, upholsterers, mechanical draftsmen, hydraulic technicians and engine mechanics.
  • The large majority – 97% - said they did not plan to exit their businesses in the next 5 years, for example by selling or closing.

Information from the Manufacturing/Aerospace Business Walk is communicated to multiple stakeholder groups for consideration in the development of programs and services that can assist manufacturers throughout the region.

The COEDC will conduct two additional sector-specific Business Walks in 2016 to businesses in the Professional Services, and Health Care sectors.

Read the full report.