Columbia 's manufacturing industry developed around processing the abundant natural
resources harvested or extracted in the province: canning salmon, processing fruits
and berries, producing lumber and paper, and smelting and refining ores. These
activities still dominate manufacturing in BC, but their role has been diminishing
over time as other industries are becoming more prominent. |
manufacturing sector in BC encompasses activities from the manufacture of clothing,
plastics, computers and aerospace products, to more traditional activities such
as food processing and pulp, paper and lumber production. The main manufacturing
industries are largely resource-based, with a major emphasis on forest products,
food and metal products.
large-and growing-share of BC's manufacturing industry isn't related to the resource
sector at all. Manufacturers in the province are engaged in a lot of different
activities. They build ships and aircraft parts, and make traffic light switching
systems, signs, fibre-optic cables and plastics. They print books and brochures,
and make furniture, pottery, machinery and clothing. BC firms produce vitamins
and other health care products, and they make computers and other electronics,
as well as a host of other types of goods.
Feeling the heat of a global recession, manufacturing slumped 14.5% in 2009 as
a result of wood manufacturing shrinking (-18.8%) for a third straight year, and
the paper industry (-16.0%) marking its fourth consecutive yearly decline. While
most manufacturing industries shrank, the food products industry bounced back
(+3.1%) from a downturn in 2008.
Between 1997 and 2009 several industries have risen in importance within the manufacturing
sector. The computer and peripheral equipment industry has nearly tripled its
GDP (+195%), while pharmaceuticals and medicines (+176%) and electronic products
(+73%) have also had significant increases in their GDP.
In 2009, the manufacturing sector had shipments valued at about $33 billion, and
employed nearly 164,000 persons.
Shipments by Industry - 2009|
and electronic products|
variety of products produced by this industry means that its workers have a broad
range of skills and occupations. Labourers, millwrights, pulp and paper or sawmill
machine operators, welders, sales representatives, operators of food processing
equipment, and truck drivers are among the most common occupations in this industry.
Nearly half (48%) of the workers in this industry are in occupations specific
to manufacturing. These include operators of industry-specific machinery and process
control systems or assemblers of electronic products, as well as labourers.
Trades, transportation and equipment operators such as machinists, welders, mechanics,
tailors, delivery drivers or materials handlers make up 23% of the total workforce.
Business, finance and administration (9%), management (8%), and natural and applied
sciences (6%) occupations are also fairly common. Natural and applied sciences
occupations include engineers, especially mechanical engineers, computer programmers
and information systems professionals, and workers such as engineering or chemical
in three manufacturing workers in science-related occupations is employed in the
computer, electronics and electrical products industry. The wood, paper, rubber,
plastics and chemicals, and fabricated metals industries also employ workers in
this occupational group.
Common arts-related occupations for manufacturing workers include graphic designers
and illustrators, as well as artisans and craftspeople. The printing and miscellaneous
manufacturing industries are the main employers for people in these occupations.
Miscellaneous manufacturing produces, among other things, jewelry and silverware
as well as signs and displays.
(65%) of the manufacturing jobs in BC are located in Mainland/Southwest, which
is home to 61% of the provinceís total workforce. Many resource-related manufacturers
locate their production facility close to the source of their raw materials, which
is one reason why the Thompson-Okanagan, Cariboo and North Coast & Nechako regions
of BC account for a bigger share of employment in manufacturing than their share
of total employment. Eleven percent of the jobs in manufacturing are located in
the Vancouver Island/Coast region, considerably less than the regionís share (17%)
of total employment in the province.
Employment in manufacturing is expected to grow slightly more than total employment
in the province during the next few years, and the industry is forecast to regain
its position as the largest employer in the goods sector. In terms of GDP, manufacturing
is forecast to slightly outpace overall economic growth, and its share of total
GDP is expected to rise from just over 9% to just over 10% by 2017.