by Mary Scianna
Canada must do more to encourage innovation and improve productivity. It must continue to reduce barriers to entry for innovative offshore companies and invest more in post secondary education for skilled workers.
More innovation and better productivity will strengthen Canada’s economy and raise long-term living standards, suggests a June 2012 economic survey of Canada from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
“Innovation is high on the government’s agenda. While Canada has made great strides in macroeconomic and structural policy settings, and its academic research is world class, the pay-off in terms of business innovation and productivity growth has not been large.”
Competition is a great motivator for innovation because it pushes companies to set themselves apart from competitors to stay in business. And to encourage more competition, we must reduce the barriers to entry, which Canada has done, according to the OECD. Indeed, Canada has one of the lowest barriers to entry among countries in the OECD.
And yet Canada’s innovation and productivity record remains low because we don’t have enough of a skilled and educated workforce to nurture the growth of new products, new technologies and new manufacturing processes.
Canada, recommends the OECD report, should “expand the supply of highly skilled workers and enhance the performance of Canada’s many tertiary [post secondary] education institutions to better meet the economy’s skill needs for innovation and growth.”
For anyone in the manufacturing sector, this is not news; the shortage of skilled workers has plagued the industry for years. Many skilled trades programs have disappeared from college curriculums. Secondary schools don’t see manufacturing as a viable career choice for students who show interest in it.
Misconceptions about manufacturing—dark, dingy factories, mundane work and poor pay—persist.
Some high schools, post secondary institutions and industry suppliers are trying to change these misconceptions. Shop Metalworking Technoloy’s special report on “Education in Manufacturing” explores some of the initiatives underway in a two-part report starting in this issue.
Manufacturing is important for Canada’s future. How we handle education in manufacturing today will determine the success or demise of our industry in the years to come. SMT
Mary Scianna, Editor | [email protected]