MRO Magazine

Canada urged to invest in talent to drive manufacturing competitiveness


Industry

July 5, 2010
By PEM Magazine

While recent reports have confirmed a moderate rebound for the Canadian economy, the country’s manufacturing industry continues to face serious challenges in competitiveness from emerging economies. As a result, Canada is being urged to step up investments in talent-driven innovation to improve performance in this sector and in creating a competitive policy infrastructure.

A report issued by Deloitte indicates that access to talented workers capable of supporting innovation is the key factor driving global competitiveness at manufacturing companies — well ahead of ‘classic’ factors typically associated with competitive manufacturing, such as labour, materials and energy.

According to the report 2010 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index from Deloitte’s Global Manufacturing Industry group and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, dominant manufacturing powers of the late 20th century are no longer leading the sector and will continue to be outpaced by a new group of leaders such as China, India, the Republic of Korea and Brazil. North American and Western European nations are expected to be less competitive in the next five years.

Canada is ranked in the middle of the pack and is expected to remain there five years from now. “This finding deserves careful consideration as Canada evaluates its global competitiveness position,” cautions Luc Martin, Deloitte Canada’s national Manufacturing leader.

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Talent-driven innovation essential for a vibrant manufacturing industry
According to Martin, the study confirms that the global competitive landscape for manufacturing is undergoing a transformational shift.

“The Canadian economy as a whole is in a strong position compared to other developed countries, but our average competitiveness will mean that further restructuring of Canadian companies will be needed. Investments in a skilled workforce and in innovation will be key to improving performance and keeping a vibrant manufacturing industry in Canada,” Martin says.

The report found that the countries with a competitive edge in manufacturing have a steady supply of highly skilled workers, scientists, researchers, engineers, and teachers who collectively have the capacity to continuously innovate and, simultaneously, improve production efficiency.

In addition, the most competitive nations demonstrate strength in research and development, as well as engineering, software and technology integration abilities. For example, the report found that although China, India and Korea relied on lower-cost labour early on, the current edge shown by their manufacturing sectors is attributable to their ability to supply high-end and highly technical products.

“Talent, specifically talent that drives innovations, trumps all when it comes to global competitiveness at manufacturing companies. The availability of talented people along with research and development capabilities are vital elements of the talent-driven and innovative manufacturing enterprise of the 21st century,” Martin says.

The report is based on the responses of more than 400 chief executive officers and senior manufacturing executives worldwide to a survey conducted in late 2009 and early 2010. It also draws on select interviews with key manufacturing decision-makers.

To download the 2010 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, please visit www.deloitte.com/globalcompetitiveness.