happy industrial worker with protection goggles during work

Think the Canadian manufacturing industry is on the endangered-species list? Not according to the companies operating in the sector.

A full two-thirds of Canadian manufacturers surveyed recently by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers said they're optimistic about their business growth prospects over the next year and a half.

In fact, most expect to see a modest to significant rise in sales.

Perhaps buoyed by this bullish outlook, these manufacturers also plan to open their wallets. A significant majority of respondents—84%—intend to either maintain or increase their purchasing budgets in 2013. And three-quarters plan to make equipment purchases in the year to come (though their budgets to do so range significantly, from less than $50,000 to more than $5 million).

Related: How one Alberta manufacturer became Canada's Top New Growth Company

Furthermore, relatively few manufacturers are concerned about cross-border competitiveness: only one-in-four respondents are worried about the effects of a high Canadian dollar on their business.

In a statement, spokesperson Julie Pike, who manages the Society's Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show, is "extremely encouraged" by the findings, noting that they correlate nicely with a recent Statistics Canada report that revealed a manufacturing sales uptick in eight provinces (led by Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick).

All this doesn't mean manufacturing is all wine and roses. Four-in-10 survey respondents are concerned about a shortage of skilled workers in the sector. Nearly the same percentage is fretting about rising production costs. Some 32% are worried about the need to invest in new equipment and technology. And roughly the same number cite serious workforce productivity concerns.

Related: Are manufacturers lousy employers?

A total of 431 people answered the survey, representing a range of manufacturers in the automotive, energy, aerospace, fabricated metal and machinery sectors, among others.

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