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Obsolete terms are causing a disconnect in how we talk about manufacturing

The Great War (1914-1918) as it was called back then was a change agent on the European continent and around the world. It was the first “modern” war with tanks, airplanes, and machine guns being added as complementary units to the more traditional infantry, cavalry, and artillery.

The war also gave rise to runaway nationalism and, unfortunately, had to start being called the First World War after another global conflict erupted from 1939 to 1945.

It was during the First World War, however, that a famous case of rebranding occurred.

In 1917 the British royals decided it was time for a makeover. The family was getting a lot of flak for its house name—Saxe-Coburg and Gotha—a name originating from the family’s history and blood ties to Germany … their current enemy. They read the room, so to speak, and rebranded to become the house of Windsor.

In my opinion, manufacturing should do the same. And it must start in school.

Skilled tradespeople are in high demand. That’s no secret to those of you that have tried to hire skilled, semi-skilled, or any kind of labour recently, and current projections estimate that about 700,000 skilled trades workers will retire over the next six years. This will turn the skilled trades gap into a chasm that even Evel Knievel couldn’t jump over.

According to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, to meet the specific demand for skilled journeypersons in Red Seal trades, an average of around 75,000 new apprentices will need to be hired per year over the next five years.

To have a chance at filling these openings, we must introduce students to the manufacturing world and make it a first choice, not a fall back.

It’s no secret that parents and guidance counselors with no manufacturing experience have a defined, even predetermined, opinion of manufacturing. It’s time to reset that opinion with a concerted effort to influence it.

One way that has been suggested is a rebrand.

Picture a high school class list that includes manufacturing engineering, welding engineering, and computerized machining technology studies instead of “shop class.”

Work being done by the Canadian Tooling & Machining Assoc., Cambridge, Ont., and grassroots organizations like the British Columbia Metal Manufacturing Advisory Group are working hard to place CNC machines and other modern manufacturing technology in high schools. I encourage you to check out these efforts.

We must take care with this rebrand, however. It’s important to the future of the manufacturing sector and the future of the Canadian economy. And, after all, for every house of Windsor, there’s a New Coke.

SHARED FROM: Canadian Metalworking Magazine

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