Approximately 130 people are looking for new jobs following a round of layoffs last week at Canadian Solar.
Gary Robertson, vice president of human resources and administration at the company, said the Guelph plant has shut down one of its production lines in response to a lull in demand for photovoltaic modules.
The solar panel manufacturer at 545 Speedvale Avenue West is now down to two production lines. The plant is capable of running up to four lines if the demand is there, Robertson said.
At the start of 2015, the Guelph plant employed roughly 700 people on site. After last weeks layoffs, Robertson said the plant now has approximately 350 people working at the facility.
Early 2015 was the peak of production at the facility, he said, adding the 700 staffers were not all tied to production. There were several project groups at the plant during that time, he said. Since then, those projects have dropped off and employees have been transitioned elsewhere.
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“The number of PV modules, the orders have dropped so we scaled back production,” he said. “At the same time we’re focusing more on expanding our R and D at the facility here, and also delivering to specialty customers and markets.”
He said the plant was moving away from the “cookie-cutter approach” to the modules made at the facility. Instead, the Guelph plant will focus more on research and development.
The 130 employees that were laid off were all on the production side of the business.
Production at the plant follows the demand for orders coming in, Robertson said. Currently, the demand isn’t there because the market is flooded with modules.
Will this be the end of production staff layoffs for the company?
Robertson said it was difficult to forecast how many employees the plant will need in the future. The market is always shifting.
“It’s difficult to say at the present time what it will look like at the end of the year,” he said, regarding the number of employees the plant will employ.
The positive side of this story, he said, is the company is looking to expand on the research and development side of the business. This may lead to new jobs, he said.