Careers of the Future Resource from NGen Canada – submitted by Laura Wodlinger
Advanced Manufacturing and the Careers of the Future for Your Students
By: Jayson Myers, CEO, Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen)
A group of engineering students and their tutor work on a group project together. They are all wearing blue coveralls and one of the students is holding a 3D wind turbine structure.
The business of making things is changing 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 disease and food insecurity.
As the leader of Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, we believe in harnessing the intellectual strength of youth. That’s why we decided to launch Careers of the Future; designed to educate young people about advanced manufacturing and inspire them to pursue fulfilling careers in the sector—careers that are at the forefront of innovation and sustainability.
Traditionally, when you think of manufacturing, an old-school image comes to mind: workers in overalls and work boots standing around a conveyor belt in a steely, dirty factory belching out clouds from smokestacks.
That image couldn’t be further from reality. Today advanced manufacturing is clean, safe, highly automated, and begging for young people with the creativity and problem-solving capabilities to make things better. It’s about a wide variety of new cutting-edge technologies, but it’s also an industry that depends on a highly skilled and diverse pool of talent.
While a majority of careers require STEM based courses and experiences, there are several career paths one can take that will lead to jobs in advanced manufacturing. The more hands-on careers can include creating, building, designing and maintaining technologies, machines, computers and other technological innovations, such as robotics and artificial intelligence. On the scientific side, youth may have the chance to research and develop cleantech and clean energies, as well as developing products like new medical devices and vaccines, and more. Even more surprising to many is that advanced manufacturing can also include work in art and design, marketing and communications, government affairs, business management, writing, publishing, and editing. The opportunities are really endless.
Contrary to popular belief, advanced manufacturing is not just about automation and digital technologies. It requires a dedicated group of individuals working together to develop, create, execute and deploy the multitude of products and processes that are developed within the industry. It’s about ideas and creativity, technique and ingenuity, teamwork and problem-solving, and how technologies are used to make customized things of all sorts, that will create the career opportunities of the future. No matter a student’s skills, interests, passions or strengths, there is an opportunity waiting for them within advanced manufacturing.
Why should students learn about careers in advanced manufacturing?
When you integrate new technology into manufacturing, the potential to help people and solve problems is limitless. That’s what makes a career in advanced manufacturing so fulfilling. New technologies like 3D printing, AI and robotics are improving how we make things, and inspiring new products and industries by:
- Delivering product and process innovation toward clean, sustainable, flexible manufacturing
- Solving productivity, health & safety, and sustainability challenges
- Building future supply chains
- Evolving agricultural production
- Solving global challenges like how to meet energy demands through marine renewable energy, fisheries, aquaculture, oil & gas, defence, shipbuilding, and transportation
The sector offers a wide range of career options, many of which don’t require a high degree of technological skills. Opportunities exist in accounting, marketing, sales, and human resources, all of which contribute to building a bright future for advanced manufacturing in Canada. Jobs are constantly evolving, requiring people to learn new skills and consider new ideas, while helping to make the world a better place. You can choose a path in medical, healthcare, sports, education, energy, transportation, agriculture, and fishing, to name a few.
At NGen, we are committed to informing young people, their parents, and educators about advanced manufacturing in hopes that today’s bright young minds will be open and interested in pursuing a career in this sector. For us, the Careers of the Future campaign is essential if we are to address skills shortages in manufacturing today and in the future, especially those related to the use of advanced digital and production technologies.
And the challenge is real. A full 25% of all manufacturing workers today will retire by 2030. Young people, aged 25 and under, account for only 6% of the workforce. We have a big and growing skills gap that must be addressed urgently. How we address it is of vital strategic importance not only for the future of manufacturing in Canada, but for the economic well-being of every Canadian.
In order simply to maintain current production levels, let alone grow, Canadian manufacturers need to find new employees and they need to boost productivity significantly – a full 20% if current labour market trends persist. Labour shortages will drive a greater degree of automation and digitization across industry. And the 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, and even primary levels, today.
Ontario is full of opportunities to get involved with advanced manufacturing but how can young people access these careers?
Businesses in Ontario are doing big things with advanced manufacturing. For example, Toronto-based Myant is fighting climate change by reducing the huge amount of textile waste in landfills. It is also providing new health care solutions. The company is using clothing to sense and react to the human body that can help better connect aging parents to their families using wearable devices to track biometrics built into the clothing.
There are some amazing and rewarding jobs waiting for young people in advanced manufacturing. A smart place for youth to start is with the right education before and after graduating. Find out more here.
Advanced manufacturing is changing the way that we live, and young Canadians can play a key role in making that happen. It means a good career and helping to build an even better future.