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Canada’s manufacturing sector must address labour gaps

Intellectual property to compete in a changing global economy, says former RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie


Canadian manufacturers have an unprecedented opportunity to take the lead on an important global issue: the growing skills gap, as the manufacturing sector prepares for transformative change that includes robotics, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things technology and the rollout of 5G networks.  If they get it right, they’ll be “way ahead of the game.” 

That’s the message of The Honourable Jean Charest, former Québec premier and partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, keynote speaker at the upcoming Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show 2019 (CMTS 2019) to be held at The International Centre in Toronto. In addition to examining current economic and international trade trends, and the ongoing need for Canada to diversify trade and gain more access to world markets like Asia, Charest will drive home the message that the one place where Canadian manufacturers can distinguish themselves from competitors is on the labour front.

“The rest of the world is going in the wrong direction. They’re re-trenching behind their borders whereas Canada is opening up, continuing to focus on immigration and workplace strategies aimed at recruiting the talent we need, from researchers and professionals to tradespeople and labourers,” said Charest, who will be speaking Wednesday, October 2, at 9:00 a.m.

A call to develop national strategies

Part of the challenge is finding creative ways – including skills training and financial incentives – to retain an aging workforce who are eager to pass on their knowledge to the next generation, he added. “A lot of them are in good health and they want to continue to work, but only if conditions suit them,” said Charest, who is leading Vision 2025, a pan-Canadian mission to reaffirm Canadian leadership in the global aerospace sector that includes a call to develop national strategies to train and retain workers. “This is an important issue that no other country has taken a hold of and one that Canada is well positioned to lead on,” he added.

To compete successfully in the global economy, Canadian manufacturers need to build strategic intellectual property (IP) capacity – an important issue that CMTS 2019 keynote Jim Balsillie, co-founder and chair of the Council of Canadian Innovators and former chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion, will discuss in his address on Tuesday, October 1, at 9:00 a.m.

“To grow and remain profitable in the era of automated manufacturing, Canadian companies need sophisticated strategies to generate, commercialize and protect their IP in all stages of the manufacturing process,” said Balsillie. “It’s a pre-condition for sustained commercial success in today’s knowledge-based economy.”

Companies that embrace IP strategies are growing

Pointing to recent statistics that show the intangible assets now account for roughly 91 percent of the S&P 500 Index compared to only 16 percent in 1976, and that companies that embrace IP strategies are growing twice as fast as their competitors, Balsillie will deliver a strong message that Canadian manufacturers can play to win in the global economy driven by innovation. “Canada has largely missed the shift from traditional, production-based economy to the IP and data-driven economy,” Balsillie said, “but it’s not too late for our manufacturing sector to build better capacity in these realms and scale their businesses to new heights.”

Balsillie will also take part in a moderated Q&A, taking questions from the floor.

Also presenting at CMTS 2019 are:

  • Keynote Ric Fulop, CEO and Co-Founder of Desktop Metal, who will highlight the potential of additive manufacturing (3D printing) to profoundly change the way companies design, manufacture and deliver products;
  • Representatives from Microsoft and The Woodbridge Group, who will share lessons learned by manufacturers who are adopting digital technology as a means to drive business transformation and greater social responsibility;
  • Keynote Andrew Witherspoon, Vice-President of Industry Solutions at Salesforce, who will discuss how manufacturers are using technology to transform their business, focusing on engineer-to-order production and new one-to-one customer service models;
  • Keynote Colin Singh Dhillon, Chief Technical Officer for the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA), who will present on how vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications technology is helping to pave the way for fully autonomous driving as well as influencing other aspects of the manufacturing industry;
  • Keynote David Nedohin, Co-Founder and President of Scope AR, an augmented reality visionary who will share case examples to show how early Fortune 500 adopters of the technology are benefitting from improved worker efficiency, reduced equipment downtime and more accurate problem solving; and,
  • Rhonda Barnett, president and COO of AVIT Manufacturing, will chair a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion in manufacturing with special guests Dennis Darby, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters; Chris McLean, Human Resources Manager – Workforce Planning & Talent Development of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc.; Steve Bonney, Regional Industry and OEM Sales Manager of Rockwell Automation; and, Mihaela Vlasea, Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo

CMTS 2019 is Canada’s largest and most comprehensive trade show and conference for advanced manufacturing technologies, cutting-edge equipment, best practices and industry connections. Expected to attract more than 9,000 manufacturing professionals from across the country – including Canada’s leading Automotive and Aerospace industries – it features more than 430 exhibits and a three-day in-depth conference program. Additional topics to be covered include automation, robotics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digital manufacturing, machine vision and artificial intelligence.

For more info visit www.cmts.ca