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Interview with


Walter Garrison
Advanced Manufacturing Business Integrator – City of Mississauga

Please tell us about the work that you're doing and the type of projects you’re working on in the transportation manufacturing sector. 
Currently, The City of Mississauga Economic Development Office is working on talent support for Mississauga companies. This includes acquisition, retention, and awareness of employment opportunities in advanced transportation manufacturing. Our office facilitates continuous improvement sessions with Mississauga manufacturers to benchmark best practices and improve productivity.

What are some of the key impacts of new technologies on existing manufacturing practices and what are some of the key considerations for companies managing the shift to Industry 4.0 and intelligent manufacturing practices?
It’s vital companies have the bandwidth to be able to take on new initiatives, equipment and changes in operational processes. This requires enough human resources as well as adequate capitalization and training of employees. There needs to be buy-in from Senior Management and key decision-makers for the transition to be successful.

In what ways is workforce development becoming a key challenge for the industry at present, and how are companies looking to address these?
Workforce development is more of a policy term, instead, the term manufacturers use is “talent.” First, the attraction of talent, especially of potential employees less than 30 years of age, is critical. There needs to be an awareness created of the employment opportunities and lifelong career paths which exist in the manufacturing sector. Myths about manufacturing i.e. that it is dirty, need to be dispelled. It is parents and guidance counsellors that need to know this as well. Once hired, there needs to be retention and professional development pathways for new employees, so they can see themselves with the manufacturer in five years. In addition, companies need to invest intelligently in HR, training, and retention activities. Retirements and the lack of an adequate talent pipeline for specific manufacturing roles is also a challenge facing many manufacturers. More progressive manufacturing companies are making significant investments in training and retention. The more astute companies are managing the different age demographics within a manufacturing operation in different ways to ensure their job satisfaction and retention.

What do you think enterprises should be doing at present to manage the risk of cybersecurity in increasingly complex manufacturing environments?
Many companies have been hacked. There is a common belief that it is not a question of whether you will get hacked but when. There is certainly the potential to be breached by ransomware. Companies need to have multiple back up plans in place. They need to determine how they will respond to losing the privacy of a customer’s data. Often, employees can be the number one vulnerability.

What was your motivation for joining this event?
In my role, I want to create awareness of Mississauga’s extensive and exceptional advanced manufacturing ecosystem. I want companies globally to be aware of the capabilities of Mississauga’s excellent Tier 1, 2, and 3 manufacturers. I would like our Mississauga manufacturers to network with OEMs for future business opportunities.

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