Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Industrial Summary

Aerospace, Rail, Ship and Other Transportation Equipment

NAICS 3364; 3365; 3366; 3369

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing aerospace products and parts; railroad rolling stock; ships and boat building; and other types of transportation devices (such as military vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, golf carts, bicycles). Aerospace is by far the most important of the four segments, accounting for 70% of production in 2016. Overall, the industry is highly export intensive as around 60% of its production is shipped to foreign countries, largely to the United States which represent about 66% of exports. The aerospace segment is the most exposed to global economic conditions as deliveries to foreign markets account for almost 80% of total production. The industry employed 84,800 workers in 2016 (5.0% of total manufacturing employment), with 70% in aerospace, 11% in ships and boat building, 9% in railroad rolling stock, and 9% in other types of transportation devices. Employment is mostly concentrated in Quebec (48%) and Ontario (31%), and the workforce is predominantly composed of men (81%). Key occupations (4-digit NOC) include:

  • Aircraft assemblers and aircraft assembly inspectors (9521)
  • Aerospace engineers (2146)
  • Aircraft instrument, electrical and avionics mechanics, technicians and inspectors (2244)
  • Supervisors, other mechanical and metal products manufacturing (9226)
  • Industrial painters, coaters and metal finishing process operators (9536)
  • Labourers in metal fabrication (9612)
  • Welders and related machine operators (7237)
  • Machinists and machining and tooling inspectosr (7231)
  • Mechanical assemblers and inspectors (9526)
  • Boat assemblers and inspectors (9531)

* Key occupations for manufacturing industries in general also include: Manufacturing managers (0911); Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics (7311); Material handlers (7452); Shippers and receivers (1521); Transport truck drivers (7511); Industrial engineering and manufacturing technologists and technicians (2233); Industrial electricians (7242); and Industrial and manufacturing engineers (2141).

The industry was among the three manufacturing industries to post positive, albeit modest, growth in output from 2007 to 2016 (along with food and beverage products and plastics and rubber products). It experienced two sizeable cycles during that period, with contractions in production occurring in 2009-2010 and 2015-2016. Because the industry is highly integrated into global supply-chains and driven by trade, demand for products such as finished aircrafts and related components like engines and parts tend to line up with developments in the world economy. Consequently, contractions in real GDP followed the global financial crisis, and more recently, the global economic slowdown which has prevailed over the last couple of years. Between 2011 and 2014 however, the industry’s output expanded at a pace exceeding 5% annually, consistent with stable global economic growth that averaged close to 4% in those years. Employment in the industry also recorded significant fluctuations over the past decade, with notable declines in 2010 and 2015, indicating that the workforce was constantly adjusted to changing demand and production needs. On average, real GDP and employment in aerospace, rail, ship and other transportation equipment increased at annual rates of 0.5% and 0.9% respectively over the period 2007-2016, recording the second strongest pace of growth in production (behind food and beverage products) and employment (behind miscellaneous manufacturing) among the thirteen manufacturing industries covered by COPS.

Output growth in the industry is expected to accelerate markedly over the period 2017-2026, primarily driven by the improvement in global macroeconomic drivers. While the world economy slowed significantly in 2016, it is projected to grow at an accelerating pace going forward, supported by steady growth in developing markets but also improving prospects in developed economies. After years of rising profits and high returns on capital invested, global airline profits are at historically high levels and financial conditions remain favourable for investment in new aircrafts. The order book for Canada’s aerospace industry is increasing and the current order backlog represents over two-and-half-years worth of production. Growing production and export levels for new aircraft models, such as Bombardier’s CSeries and Global 7000 and 8000, are expected to support industry’s activity, along with the federal government’s commitment to replace the aging fleet of CF-18 fighter jets. However, as the renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) moves forward, it will be critical for the industry to minimize the disruption on cross-border supply chains and to diversify its trade base away from the U.S market where protectionist trade policies are on the rise. Under this context, the proposed Airbus and Bombardier’s CSeries partnership announced in October 2017 is a positive development. The world class sales, marketing and support networks that Airbus brings into the venture are expected to strengthen and accelerate the CSeries’ commercial momentum by expanding its order book and providing access to new markets, particularly in Europe and Asia. Airbus’ supply chain expertise is expected to generate significant production cost savings, improving the competitiveness of the CSeries in the fast growing single aisle market, which represents 70% of future global demand for aircraft (the 100-150 seat market segment alone is projected to represent more than 6,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years). The industry is also expected to be supported by solid growth in shipbuilding and rail activity. Several major contracts have been awarded to Canadian businesses for the construction of combat and non-combat vessels for the Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard under the federal government National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. The outlook for the fabrication of railroad equipment looks quite optimistic as the transportation of oil by train is increasing at a rapid pace in North America due to the lack of pipeline capacity. Changing demographics, increased road congestion and environmental concerns are also expected to foster global demand for transit systems, including rail and subway. On average, real GDP in aerospace, rail, ship and other transportation equipment is projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.3% over the period 2017-2026, compared to 1.0% for employment. The more moderate pace of growth anticipated in employment reflects the need to improve cost-competitiveness by increasing productivity, particularly in the aerospace segment due to fierce competition from Boeing and Embraer. Nevertheless, employment is projected to post the strongest pace of growth among all manufacturing industries.

Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Aerospace, Rail, Ship and Other Transportation Equipment

Figure showing the annual growth of real GDP and employment over the periods 2007-2016 and 2017-2026 for the industry of Aerospace, Rail, Ship and Other Transportation Equipment . The data is shown on the table following this figure

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).

Text Version of Figure Real GDP and Employment Growth Rates in Aerospace, Rail, Ship and Other Transportation Equipment , 2007-2016 and 2017-2026, in Percent
  Real GDP Employment
2007-2016 0.5 0.9
2017-2026 2.3 1.0

Source: Statistics Canada (historical) and ESDC 2017 COPS industrial scenario (projections).


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