The executive chairman of auto parts manufacturer Martinrea International Inc. wants job seekers to know that his industry is a “cool” place to work. 

“It’s important to show people that making things is really good. It’s also really cool. It’s very high-tech in terms of a lot of stuff we do in our industry. There’s lots of room for logistics and robotics and artificial intelligence – it’s not just the case where you go into a dingy place that’s loud and full of grease,” said Rob Wildeboer in an interview Monday. 

The auto industry has been struggling to attract workers, compounding other challenges that have been plaguing the sector including the global semiconductor shortage and logistics disruptions. 

Wildeboer said the labour problem is worse south of the border – something he blames on government aid programs brought in during the pandemic. 

“I think in the United States in particular, a lot of people have been paid not to work for a long period of time. Some of the assistance from government is just coming off now – people react to that. If you get paid to stay home or not to work, eventually people say, ‘Well maybe I shouldn’t work,’” he said. 

Those looking for a job also have more choice since the labour shortage is affecting numerous sectors, which Wildeboer said makes it even harder to attract workers. 

Despite the current difficult operating environment, he said he expects these headwinds will be short-term. 

“The long-term view is positive. I agree with the bullish outlook for the economy as a whole,” Wildeboer said. “I think demand for vehicles will be very strong today and for the next half decade.”