NGen’s Careers of the Future initiative is educating young Canadians about the advanced manufacturing sector and showcasing its plentiful opportunities.
Advanced manufacturing is the use of innovative technology to improve products or production processes, and it’s actively changing the way that we live. From improving health care with biomanufacturing and biomedicine to building robots to using artificial intelligence to create self-driving cars, 3D printing to make objects out of thin air, and virtual and augmented reality, the pioneering field of advanced manufacturing is revolutionizing and transforming our world.
Advanced manufacturing is helping us to build better, smarter, and cleaner than ever before. It’s also creating exciting new opportunities for youth — and educating young people about the sector’s rewarding possibilities is critical for its ongoing evolution and success.
Building world-leading advanced manufacturing capabilities
The organization that’s behind building world-leading advanced manufacturing capabilities in Canada is called Next Generation Manufacturing (NGen). NGen was founded on the principle that digital transformation in advanced manufacturing will enrich the lives of Canadians, delivering better products and good jobs while generating the economic growth essential to a better future. It’s an industry-led non-profit organization that leads Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster and is one of five national networks supported by Canada’s ambitious Innovation Superclusters Initiative.
Currently, a big part of NGen’s work is workforce development. The industry is facing a major skills and labour shortage. “We know that 25 percent of the manufacturing workforce in Canada is going to retire by 2030,” says Jay Myers, CEO of NGen. “To keep production where it is now — never mind growing — manufacturers across the country will have to improve their productivity by 25 to 30 percent in the next 10 years.”
NGen’s Careers of the Future initiative
NGen’s Careers of the Future initiative seeks to address this shortage by harnessing the intellectual strength of youth. The campaign educates young Canadians about the advanced manufacturing sector and inspires them to pursue fulfilling careers in the sector.
The industry truly does hold exciting opportunities for youth, as it’s responsible for producing many of the products and technologies that are needed to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, from climate change to health and safety to food and water security.
When they hear the term “manufacturing,” young people may not realize the rewarding possibilities in store. “A lot of people — not just youth but parents and teachers and the public in general — think of manufacturing today as it was decades ago,” says Myers. “But advanced manufacturing isn’t boring or repetitive work, and it’s not a dirty industry. It’s high-tech, it’s clean, and it’s very creative and innovative work.”
Making a difference in the world
Advanced manufacturing capabilities are how societies, including Canada, will confront the world’s critical problems. From reducing our carbon emissions to protecting Canadians’ health and safety to ensuring food security and water purification, made-in-Canada innovations require a strong manufacturing sector to bring them to life.
Myers notes that wherever young people’s interests lie — whether in the skilled trades, mathematics, science, engineering, technology, social science, business, or the arts — there’s a place for them in advanced manufacturing. The Careers of the Future campaign encourages young people to recognize and pursue their talents, to build key personal and workplace skills such as accountability and teamwork, to expand their skills, to keep an eye out for experiential learning opportunities, and to get involved in extracurricular activities. Advanced manufacturing’s future is golden, and it needs youth’s bright minds.