MISSISSAUGA, Ont.—The prosperity of southern Ontario will rely heavily on innovation as part of “the new world of manufacturing,” according to a federal cabinet minister.
Speaking at the Manufacturing Canada Conference in Mississauga, Ont., Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), lauded the manufacturing sector as a creator of wealth and opportunities, but said it’s time to be a little more realistic about what the future has in store.
“I don’t think I have to tell you … that the manufacturing sector is a vitally important part of our economy,” Goodyear, MP for Cambridge, Ont., said.
Hailing from Cambridge, one of the province’s many manufacturing hubs, means Goodyear is no stranger to the important role the sector plays in driving Canada’s economy.
It also means he’s no stranger to the challenges the sector has faced—and continues to face—in the wake of the recent recession and changing global headwinds that have wreaked havoc on local firms.
“We do need to be a little bit realistic,” Goodyear said. “The manufacturing sector compared to others has been experiencing slow growth.”
That slow growth combined with increasing global competition and new consumer demands means the sector is facing a “new world”—where innovation will play a key role in future success.
“The new world of manufacturing is, in fact, high tech, high skilled, actively innovative and highly responsive,” Goodyear said.
“It consists of robotics, 3-D printing, printable electronics, customization, and these are much more than buzz words of the past—they are the absolute new reality of today.”
Being ushered in alongside new technology is a new breed of workforce that includes engineers, programmers and designers, he said.
“These are indicators of change (and) not everybody likes change, but these are the indicators of a trend within manufacturing towards more innovative and effective ways of doing things,” Goodyear continued.
And while some manufacturers have made the transition to the “new way” of the industry, he said not enough are moving in the necessary direction.
“Many more need to seize the opportunities for change,” Goodyear said. “Our regional prosperity, and by extension that of (Canada), will rely on businesses’ capacity to innovate more than ever.”
That innovation includes not only new products and services, but a shift to transformative partnerships and collaborations with other firms and local post-secondary institutions that are training the crop of talent the industry will need to compete.
Whether the sector embraces it is up to the firms themselves, but it’s safe to say the new world of manufacturing is here.
Joining Goodyear at the Manufacturing Canada Conference were Jayson Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), and Francesco Savelli, director of sales and marketing at SAVELLI S.p.A, and president of AMAFOND, who also spoke to the importance of maintaining an advanced manufacturing sector.
>See Myers’ video below.