Economic Strategy - Advanced Manufacturing Table

Leveraging rapid technological change in advanced manufacturing to strengthen Canada’s manufacturing sector.


Charles Deguire, Kinova Robotics


Federal representatives

Sounding board members


October 11, 2017 Location: Ottawa, Ontario


On October 11, 2017, the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table held its first meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. Members gathered to discuss their vision for the manufacturing sector in Canada and set the forward workplan to unlock economic growth.

What we talked about

  1. Each member spoke to why they agreed to take time away from their businesses to join the Advanced Manufacturing Table. Some of what was said: I hope to position Canada so we are ready to meet future global demand; I joined to move the dial on investment in technology in Canada; I joined to develop a policy that is going to help Canadian companies compete globally, based on innovation and value.
  2. There was broad agreement that the mandate of the Advanced Manufacturing Table is to focus on the Canadian manufacturing sector and how to grow it through the adoption of advanced manufacturing processes. Access to technology is going to be important for our businesses to stay strong in the future.
  3. Members discussed how to frame a vision for manufacturing in Canada. The conversation is ongoing, but a preliminary consensus is that growth can be achieved by bringing value to customers through innovative and cost competitive products and services.
  4. All agreed to organize the upcoming program of work around three key themes: attracting global mandates; scaling up; and accelerating adoption of advanced manufacturing technology. Three champions stepped forward to drive the agenda on each theme.
  5. Each theme will be explored from the perspective of solutions tailored to the firm life cycle: different actions may be needed for start-ups, scale-ups and large firms. We will also ask: how can we accelerate the distribution of knowledge, so that we can leap forward based on lessons others have learned? how can we de-risk investments in innovation and increase access to capital? what are the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow, and how can we equip Canadians to develop them?  

What we'll do next

  • Thematic champions will undertake deep dives on the three key themes.
  • All members will seek opportunities to engage with their communities and gather input to the Table's discussions.
  • The next meeting will take place in November 2017.

I am a very proud Canadian, and my family has been privileged to work in Canada and grow our business here. My hope is that together we will identify measurable actions that we can all be held accountable to achieve.

Advanced Manufacturing Table Member, October 11, 2017
November 14, 2017 Location: Ottawa, Ontario


On November 14, 2017, the Advanced Manufacturing Economic Strategy Table held its second meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. The conversation explored how to attract, expand and retain global mandates, and also how to unlock Canadian talent in advanced manufacturing, particularly by growing the participation of women in the sector.

What we talked about

  1. The conversation began with a tour de table in which CEOs spoke to their personal experience of what it would take to grow their business. It was quickly agreed that one of the key enablers of technology adoption and growth in manufacturing – including in Canada - is the workforce. In particular, strong skilled trades and engineers are a Canadian competitive advantage. However, there are shortages which create growth bottlenecks. The discussion explored best practice models for developing work-ready talent, both from within organizations and through post-secondary programs. It also spoke to the image of manufacturing today: are manufacturing firms able to express their purpose and vision in a way that resonates with the next generation? Is there a clear pathway to a career in manufacturing?
  2. There was a focussed discussion on the importance of making manufacturing in Canada a global investment destination, The Invest in Canada Hub presented the innovative model of client service that they are developing. Ray Tanguay also shared lessons learned from his work in the automotive sector. The presentations sparked a wider discussion about the criteria global firms use to make decisions to expand or continue their footprint in Canada. It was noted that both the Government and Canadian industry must be better at supporting domestic technologies and innovations, by being a first customer and early adopter, to increase efficiency and ultimately drive down production costs to become more globally competitive. These insights will continue to be explored and refined, and will be discussed further at future meetings.
  3. Members heard about the findings of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ study “Women in Manufacturing”: women make up about 48% of the Canadian workforce, but only 28% of jobs in manufacturing, a ratio that has not changed significantly over the past 30 years. However, research shows that women working in manufacturing are happy with their career choice and would overwhelmingly recommend it to a female friend. The study has proposed a number of concrete steps that could help grow women’s participation in the manufacturing workforce.

What we'll do next

  • Refine and elaborate a bold vision for Canadian manufacturing and ambitious targets
  • Table members will undertake a number of broader engagement initiatives in the coming months to gather input from a larger sectoral audience.
  • The next meeting will take place in December 2017

We have something to sell here. But, to attract investment, we can’t be the same, we always have to be clearly better.

Advanced Manufacturing Table Member, November 14, 2017
December 18, 2017 Location: Ottawa, Ontario


The Advanced Manufacturing Table met Monday, December 18, for its third meeting, a half-day videoconference focused on skills and talent development, a key horizontal theme identified at both previous Table meetings– and featured presentations from Siemens Canada; Yves Landry Foundation; Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec; and Colleges and Institutes Canada.

What we talked about

  1. The introductory remarks took stock of the work completed to date including a summary of the All-Chairs meeting. The Table will continue to work collaboratively on the vision, targets and pipeline proposals with the goal of building them out ahead of the next meeting in January, 2018.
  2. Looking to build on previous meeting's topics, around the availability of skilled workforce: both skilled trades and engineering, and the number of bottlenecks (shortage of apprenticeship positions; retirement of skilled trade workforce; public perception of careers in manufacturing), there were presentations from four organizations focused on building manufacturing skills. ‎The Yves Laundry Foundation co-funds training and worker re-training (50% share with the company) in Ontario to achieve measurable improvement in innovation processes and technology integration in manufacturing; Siemens Canada has implemented the SCETA program (Siemens Canada Engineering and Technology Academy) that provides third year engineering and engineering technology students with the educational and professional foundation required for successful careers in the company through their work integrated learning focused on Industry 4.0; Centre de recherche industrielle du Québecprovides companies with the information, know-how, and services needed to excel in developing distinctive products (Industry 4.0 including Complex automation, Robotics, Additive manufacturing (3D), Quality control); and Colleges and Institutes Canada helps to customize corporate training delivery for post-secondary institutions.
  3. Discussion  focused on  bottlenecks that limit the reach of skilling programs, and there was broad consensus: oversubscription: the demand being higher than the availability of funding leaves hundreds on waiting lists; challenges faced by small firms in rural or mid-sized urban environments, for whom distance is a significant barrier to access to training ; need to educate both those on the shop floor and those managing process renewal; and  information gap:  many good potential options for training exist, but information  not centrally available ‎and application processes can be complex and discouraging
  4. ‎To build on the discussion, there will be more work done to consolidate information on existing skills and training programs and to develop a pipeline of potential recommendations.

What we'll do next

  • The Table is scheduled to hold two engagement sessions in January including the 10th in Montreal and the 12th in Toronto. The engagement days will include industry round tables as well as meetings with the provinces and key stakeholders.
  • The fourth Table meeting will take place on January 17 with a focus on growing firms to scale.

Not only will it be important to train our upcoming and new employees, but equally important is to train executives and business leaders who will be adopting industry 4.0.

Advanced Manufacturing Table Member, December 18, 2017
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