The Next Age In Manufacturing Is Now. The Intellectual Strength Of Canada’s Youth Is Key

Small Business Canada

Jayson Myers, CEO, NGen

Myers is an award-winning business economist, specializing in industrial and technological change, and has been widely recognized as one of the most influential policy advocates in Canada. He is an advisor to both private and public sector leaders and has counseled Canadian prime ministers and premiers, as well as senior corporate executives and policymakers around the world.

With more than 25 years of experience building alliances among businesses, academic institutions, as well as community, labor, and advocacy organizations, Myers has been instrumental in shaping the public policy environment in Canada. Between 2007 and 2016, he served as President & CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, Canada’s largest industry and trade association. He was also the founding Chair of the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition, Vice-Chair of Canada’s National Roundtable on Skills, and Vice-Chair of the Ontario and Great Lakes Manufacturing Councils.

Myers currently Chairs the Global Gateways Federation and is an advisor to legal and consulting firms in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. As Principal of Jayson Myers Public Affairs Inc., he helps organizations identify and manage opportunities arising from the changes that are reshaping the industry and international business.

He studied at Queen’s University and the University of British Columbia in Canada, as well as at the London School of Economics and Oxford University in the United Kingdom. He has held appointments as a Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and as a lecturer in politics, economics, and international studies at both Oxford and the University of Warwick.

What is the inspiration behind the launch of this exciting youth initiative “Careers of the”? And what do you hope to accomplish with it?

The business of making things is evolving rapidly. The pandemic has underlined the importance of having “made-in-Canada” solutions, while demand has surged for clean products and game-changing technologies to address some of the world’s biggest challenges including climate change, life-threatening diseases, and food insecurity. 

We know that the jobs of tomorrow will be highly technical and will require a skilled labor force. Canada won’t just be buying new technologies; we will be selling them too. 

Our country has the chance to reposition itself in the global market, and much of that depends on how we harness young intelligent minds as they lead us into the future. We are calling on Canada’s youth and have launched a national campaign – Careers of the Future, as part of our efforts to address skills shortages across various sectors and especially those related to the use of advanced digital and production technologies. 

The future of Canadian manufacturing is up to the students of today. Today’s young generation wants to make a difference for the world – by making things right – we want to enable them to pursue a career to do that in Canada’s advanced manufacturing sector.

What is the recent survey conducted by NGen? Can you highlight a few key findings from the report? 

We’ve learned a lot from the market research that we conducted prior to the launch of the campaign. When we first asked students and parents what they thought about manufacturing the response was not a very positive one. Repetitive. Boring. Dirty. Dangerous. Unfortunately, the old stereotypes are very much alive in the public and among key influencers like parents, teachers, and guidance counselors.

Our research also shows that young people still overwhelmingly have manufacturing ideas that are 40-50 years out of date.

The challenge is real. A full 25 percent of all manufacturing workers today will retire by 2030. Young people, aged 25 and under, accounting for only six percent of the workforce. 

In order simply to maintain current production levels, let alone grow, Canadian manufacturers need to find new employees and they need to boost productivity big time – by a full 20 percent if current labor market trends persist. Labor shortages will drive a greater degree of automation and digitization across the industry. Result? The technical and digital skills that will be required to operate advanced business and production systems will be in even shorter supply if manufacturers do not take the lead in providing guidance to students and educators at secondary or even primary levels.

We also learned that students are looking for guidance – what are the next steps in their studies that they can pursue if they are interested in an advanced manufacturing career.

How is NGen supporting the aspirations of the young Canadians? aims to provide students and parents with more information to help guide their next steps if they are interested in pursuing work in advanced manufacturing. It also identifies extracurricular programs and activities in which young people can get involved – programs like First Robotics and the Virtual Robotics Training Academy that give students easy access to robot simulations.

Can you please provide some guidelines around the Manufacturing the Future contest to help young Canadians understand the program a little better?

Manufacturing the Future was launched on May 13th and will award 10 bursaries valued at $10,000 (CAD) each. Canadian residents between the ages of 15-18 are asked to submit a 500-word essay, addressing the question “What problem do you think advanced manufacturing could solve in the future? And what role would you like to play in making it happen?” Whether interested in science, engineering, computers, virtual reality, robotics, design and creative arts, business, or administration, there is a role for everyone, and all are encouraged to apply.

Our aim is to guide and support the next generation of young Canadians as they pursue career aspirations in this field.

The contest closed on June 2, 2021; however, we encourage students, parents, and teachers to visit to learn more about the incredible innovation and captivating technologies being used to address some of the world’s biggest challenges such as climate change, disease detection, and food insecurity.

What is your key advice for the young Canadians as they pursue career aspirations in these challenging times?

Advanced Manufacturing is not your traditional manufacturing. The days of the dusty factories and smokestacks are long gone. We need you. We need your intellect and talent.

Take the time to learn what interests you, if you like art, you can design things. If you like playing video games, you might be interested in digital twin technology. Or, if you like math, you could be an engineer – the possibilities are endless. 

Careers in advanced manufacturing are dynamic, innovative, fulfilling, and well paying, plus you get to be a part of the solution, creating a future that is bright and promising for generations to come.

Businesses have a role to play as well, the real competitive advantage lies in how Canadian companies can commercialize solutions to grow business and improve efficiency, while also leveraging the latest technologies to make the biggest impact. If we are to change the world for the better, we need to harness the intellectual strength of our youth, and that is our biggest asset and advantage.

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