Canadian Manufacturing

Reimagining manufacturing: A youth-led future

by Kim Cooper, President and CEO of Youth Culture Inc.   

Human Resources Manufacturing Operations Research & Development advanced manufacturing Careers education human resources labour shortage Manufacturing

The lifeblood of the manufacturing sector is its relentless drive for innovation, nourished by a rich diversity of perspectives.

African american engineer using laptop to maintenance artificial intelligence neural networks made up of interconnected nodes layers, aiding in processing and transmitting information (Credit: Kim Cooper via Envato Elements)

The manufacturing sector is at the cusp of a transformation, one that could redefine its future workforce. To harness this potential fully, the industry must transcend traditional boundaries and champion diversity in its ranks. This endeavour involves not only showcasing the technological leaps and strides towards sustainability within the sector but importantly, amplifying voices from communities historically sidelined in manufacturing. By doing so, we pave a path for today’s youth, showing them a place where they can flourish in this evolving landscape.

Innovating Talent Attraction

The lifeblood of the manufacturing sector is its relentless drive for innovation, nourished by a rich diversity of perspectives. Initiatives and programs like Skills Canada, FIRST Robotics Canada and Build a Dream open young minds to the boundless possibilities within the manufacturing sphere. At Youth Culture Inc., one of our strategies include working with corporate clients to engage youth into future careers that are evolving with the economy – through a lens of diversity and inclusion. By casting a light on role models from underrepresented groups in advanced manufacturing and innovation, these efforts are breaking down age-old barriers and sketching an inclusive blueprint for the industry’s future.

For example, Farzana. She is a newcomer to Canada and had no direct experience or knowledge of the advanced manufacturing sector. But as an integral member of the NGen Youth Team, she and her peers are redefining engagement in advanced manufacturing. They stand as proof that the industry holds a vibrant and fulfilling career path for all youth, regardless of their background.

Empowering the Next Generation

The evolution of roles such as CNC machinists, represents the fusion of skill and technology, resonating with a generation steeped in the digital world. Yet, for the manufacturing industry to truly captivate this emerging workforce, it must extend beyond showcasing these evolving roles. It’s essential to bolster this budding talent pool with comprehensive programs, resources, and a culture that not only cherishes diversity but also enables every individual to contribute significantly, particularly in areas like sustainability that deeply align with the values of today’s youth.

Worker welding in a factory. Heavy industry, welder work (Credit: Kim Cooper via Envato Elements)

A Tech-Driven Future

Technology is at the forefront of revolutionizing the manufacturing sector, heralding an age of automation, efficiency, and digitalization. Robotics, AI, and machine learning are streamlining processes, fostering a tech-oriented environment that appeals to young individuals pursuing technology-rich careers. The digital overhaul of workflows and the rise of novel specializations, such as cybersecurity in manufacturing and robotics technicians, underscore the industry’s evolving nature. The message to the youth contemplating their career paths is unequivocal: the manufacturing sector is brimming with opportunities for those who are passionate about technology, innovation, and making a discernible difference.

Envisioning Careers of Tomorrow

A significant addition aimed at inspiring diverse youth in manufacturing is NGen’s Careers of the Future website. This innovative platform invites visitors to discover the varied careers available in advanced manufacturing across technology, science, business, and more. It seeks to inspire youth by showcasing exciting and rewarding job opportunities previously unimagined, complemented by insightful content crafted by the NGen Youth team. Featured interviews with industry experts from companies like Myant and Linamar offer tangible glimpses into the sector.

In partnership with Youth Culture Inc., NGen is also heightening awareness about opportunities in advanced manufacturing through their podcast, spotlighting both the NGen team and leaders from organizations like Aspire Food Group and Mosaic Manufacturing. These initiatives play a crucial role in depicting the vibrant, forward-thinking, and inclusive future of manufacturing.

Crafting a Diverse Future

The mission to draw diverse youth into manufacturing transcends the objective of filling job vacancies; it’s about forging a resilient, innovative, and inclusive future for the sector. By elevating role models, underscoring the sector’s relevance and allure, and leveraging technological progress, manufacturing can attract a wide array of talents.

The industry’s evolution signifies that the diverse youth of today are not merely potential employees—they are the future innovators and leaders poised to propel the sector forward. By engaging with them now, through narratives by youth and for youth, the manufacturing sector can secure a vibrant, diverse, and innovative future. This youth-led story, bursting with fresh perspectives, high energy, and creativity, is essential in shaping and engaging the next generation in the innovation and opportunities within advanced manufacturing.


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