CHAMBER NEWSLETTER MAY 2016

Are we meeting your expectations? Over the past few months I’ve been discussing more broadly where I believe CK needs to invest its efforts by encouraging our leaders to pull the right levers and create a stronger future for businesses in our community. The Municipality is currently at work developing a 20yr plan for Chatham Kent. The CK Chamber will be a key collaborator and heavily involved in developing that plan; to ensure its viability, to support the incubation and growth of local business and create maximum impact through execution and accountability.

For those that have been following along, my focus has been placed on education - after all, I believe it is the fundamental right of every Canadian regardless of your background. In Ontario's 2016 budget it provided few practical details, but discusses the need for "consistent and predictable" support for working people in "today’s dynamic labor market." We should note that basic income is gaining attention in Canada and Ontario has committed to piloting a test community because most new jobs these days are in a "precarious" position. Across the country, temporary and part-time employment has grown twice as fast compared to permanent full-time work between 1997 and 2015. It’s only through improved and innovative education that we will determine if more attractive job opportunities come to Chatham Kent.

It’s imperative that we invest in skills development so more people can work up the competitive wage scale and beyond the abilities of robotics and automation!

To be clear, “routine manual” (assembly line and production ) or “routine cognitive” (administrative and clerical) work still exists, and, on small levels, the few that remain in CK are competitive and provide strong benefit packages. The question is - for how long? We need to acknowledge the traditional definition of “labour” has changed and along with it the traditional arrangement between employee and employer.

Manufacturing, as an “Industry” is not dead! In fact, in Canada manufacturing continues to be a leading sector employer. Manufacturing is a cornerstone of our modern economy. Accounting for approximately $173 billion of our GDP, manufacturing represents more than 10 percent of Canada's total GDP. What’s more, manufacturers export more than $318 billion each year, representing 61 percent of all of Canada's merchandise exports.

But, it does present us with this paradox, “fewer people now equal more productivity.” If manual or cognitive output could be measured by the number of widgets, statistics suggest that since 1995 “skilled” workers are now producing at a rate of four times as much with the assistance of technology.

As automation has taken over and assembly line production becoming extinct, it remains a reckless pursuit of fantasy to wait for a dated return to glory. Nostalgia, for its part, is then better left to Facebook photos floating around and being viewed like antiques as a collection in a museum. Meanwhile, you can imagine what innovative manufacturing platforms look like today by visiting our Municipal Library where that technology is currently on display.

3D printing or rapid prototyping is leading edge manufacturing technology and as a readily available tool has become more financially accessible to everyone. With a capricious mix of digital and mobile technology, cloud based computing and the stratospheric absorption of “On-Demand” services, that this technology will allow business models to become unhinged from red tape, bureaucracy and old hat traditionalist.

It’s this “virtual” soup that permits anyone craving to be the next global manufacturing giant or a one person global empire in supply and distribution. To do so, comes with minimal financial risk or exposure and happens in a matter of days, not years. It is through the simplification of those complexities occurring in today’s working economy that is driving the explosion of innovation.

So.., if I can do it while enjoying the whims of being an Uber driver or operating a hostel for Air BnB in my leisure, why would I work for you?

The coming generations of employee’s are becoming “micro-corporations” in and of themselves; so, to conclude, you need to ask yourself:
• How is technology changing my business?
• What new skills are required to maximize my business growth and expansion??
• How do I remain competitive in an “On-Demand” world???

Your Chair,
Christopher June