The general mood in the province has certainly changed since we launched ‘Making it in Ontario’, the official podcast of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, in April 2021. At that time, less than two percent of the population of Ontario was fully vaccinated – today we are nearing fifty percent. Restaurants, hair salons, and fitness centres are open or are preparing to open. It’s time to enjoy the summer, it’s time to get back to work, and it’s time to identify what the ‘new normal’ will look like.

We at the Trillium Network were certainly fortunate to be able to welcome so many amazing guests to the podcast over the past few months. Guests like Jayson Myers, Sandra Pupatello, Tony Clement, Kim and Simmie Thiara, John Romano, Aaron Tisdelle, Max Preston, and Robert Graup. We learned a lot, and in this episode – the first of Season 2 – Nick and Brendan discuss some of what was learned and why it is important.

So what did we learn?

We learned that we were right about a number of things. Namely, Ontario has a robust and exciting advanced manufacturing ecosystem replete with great personalities and a diverse network of companies and supporting organizations. We also learned that manufacturing is not a monolithic endeavour. Companies and industries are diverse in size, scope, and structure. HOWEVER, many face similar challenges. These may be related to skills and talent. They may be related to trade. And for many (err…most), challenges related to supply chains – be it semiconductors or cardboard packaging – are keeping people awake at night.

Finally, we learned that in order to succeed in a post-pandemic economy there are some things that need to change. Manufacturers need to change how they engage women, younger persons, and persons from historically excluded demographics if they want to succeed (so do companies in a lot of other industries, for that matter). We are excited to learn about and from manufacturers that are seeing success on this front. It’s a unique situation where what makes moral sense also makes economic sense.

Manufacturers and policy-makers also need to work together to identify solutions to challenges related to supply chains and to leverage the new North American trade agreement. Everyone needs to work together to identify and capitalize on the opportunities to further integrate new production technologies (i.e. Industry 4.0) into our advanced manufacturing ecosystem. These changes are critical if Ontario manufacturers want to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy.

The Trillium Network supports these and other initiatives through a steady flow of information, insight, and knowledge. Some of these insights come from the highest levels (who else is excited to see the results of this year’s census?). Some come directly from those who are making things or supporting manufacturers on a day-to-day basis. This information is disseminated through our podcast, company profiles, video updates, and other publications. It also helps identify not only the challenges that manufacturers face, but how they can solve these challenges.

It is going to be hard to top some of the conversations we had in Season 1 of ‘Making it in Ontario’ – but we will do our best. If you have any ideas about guests or topics we should cover on the podcast, please feel free to get in touch. Otherwise, have a safe and happy summer and enjoy the podcast.

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