Specialized Manufacturing Labour Force

As of 2016 there were 3,235 jobs classified as part of the manufacturing sector in Thunder Bay, representing just over 5% of Thunder Bay's work force. These fields range from engineering to construction, mechanics and precision production.

CNC operator

Thunder Bay Skilled Trades & Apprenticeships

The US has identified a skilled trades gap which is expected to worsen before it gets better. With the baby boomer generation about to retire, even more skilled trades positions will soon be in need of being filled. Currently, 6 out 10 open skilled production positions in the US are remaining unfilled due to talent shortages. (Source: Deloitte)

Thunder Bay is home to a highly educated and diversified skilled trades labour force. Industry experts estimate that there are approximately 6,000 trades people in Northwestern Ontario who work in the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional sectors.

Acedemic Strengths of Manufacturing Workforce

Manufacturing Labour Force Profile Graph

Thunder Bay is also actively growing its manufacturing labour force by training new apprentices. Located in Thunder Bay, Confederation College offers 10 different apprenticeship programs to get students started on the path to becoming a skilled journey person.

Distribution of Active Members and Apprentices
 Building Trades Members and Apprentices
  Locally Active Provincially Active
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers & Helpers, Locals 555 & 128 95 3,100+
Carpenters District Council of Ontario, Local Union 1669 556 5,200+
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 402 270 15,300
International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Ironworkers, Local Union 759 265 7,400+
Millwrights & Machine Erectors (U.B.C.I.A.), Local Union 1151 100 3,200+
United Association of Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local Union 628 392 6,000+
Sheetmetal Workers International Association, Local Union 397 275 54,550
Labourers International Union of North America, Local Union 607 750 100,000
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Local Union 1671 152 8,400
Total 3,711 162,950

In 2016, 8.9% of the Thunder Bay labour force had some type of apprenticeship, trades certificate or diploma. This is higher than the 6% average across the province of Ontario. (Source: 2018-2019 Community Labour Plan)

This table shows a breakdown of active apprentices and journey persons. Please note that this was tabulated by the Ontario College of Trades and only included registered trades and does not include those that hold certificates for voluntary trades. (Source: 2018-2019 Community Labour Plan)

Sector Active Apprentice Certificates Active Journeyperson Certificates
Construction 480 1,379
Industrial 116 81
Motive Power 262 1,360
Service 76 422
Total 934 3,242

Source: Ontario College of Trades custom tabulation, 2017

Academic Programs Supporting Specialized Manufacturing in Thunder Bay

Lakehead University logoLakehead University offers 5 engineering programs to train students with design and innovation skills. These include: Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; and Software Engineering.



Confederation College logoConfederation College provides a wide range of programs supporting skilled trades and other manufacturing professions.

These include:


As of 2014, approximately 40% of Thunder Bay's workers were part of a union. This provided the city with approximately 22,300 union members who are dedicated and motivated to remain working in Thunder Bay. (Source: Canadian Labour Congress)

Unions in Thunder Bay

Success Stories: Venshore Mechanical

Venshore Mechanical LogoSince Venshore Mechanical was established, they have collaborated with the local colleges and training services to ensure there is an accessible and available talent pool for the industry. Thunder Bay's diversified multi-sector economy has provided a strong base for the development of a skilled and experienced trade workforce that is difficult to replicate anywhere. 

Click here to read the full success story featuring Venshore Mechanical.

For additional information please contact the Development Officer at (807) 625-3960 or visit our Contact Us page.


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