I am pleased to be here with you this afternoon.
I appreciate the invitation to be in front of this committee. As it's my first time in front of this committee since the election, let me congratulate each of you on your election to Parliament and your commitment to serving constituents and building a better Canada.
I am Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada. We are the voice of Canada's 97 universities working together to advance higher education, research and innovation in Canada.
On their behalf, let me invite you to visit our campuses to see the phenomenal work being done by students, faculty, and researchers to give you a glimpse into Canada's future.
Today's subject is of vital concern to our members, and let me tell you why. Over 40% of all R and D in Canada happens at Canada's universities. This spans from fundamental research that spurs disruptive innovations and creates markets to applied research that innovates new products, processes, and services.
Over one million young Canadians are pursuing their first degree at our places of learning. The experiences they have will determine Canada's prosperity for decades to come.
Canada's universities are anchor institutions in communities right across the country, in communities large and small, and so we appreciate the opportunity to explore academic-industry collaboration and how it can be improved.
At the outset, let me say that budget 2016 contained many welcome measures that have a bearing on today's subject. The new post-secondary strategic investment fund will provide new investments in research infrastructure to promote innovation. The new investments in discovery research are the largest in a decade, and will let discovery lead, which in turn leads to innovation. Changes in student financial assistance will make post-secondary education more attainable. These measures, along with others, will contribute to economic growth and inclusion.
Today's universities may be different than when you were younger. Canada is now proud to have globally competitive research infrastructure, the results of investments that started being made in late 1990s, and the world is now coming to Canada to work with us. We have a new generation of faculty and researchers. Think of this: over 65% of our faculty have been hired in the last 15 years. This is a new generation of researchers with new experiences, new skills, and a commitment to collaboration, and they're among the world's best. Last year 24 Canadians won major international prizes—I'm thinking of Dr. Art McDonald and the Nobel Prize in Physics—and the world is noticing.
We have far more entrepreneurship and co-op opportunities on our campuses than ever before with entrepreneurship programs and resources for students and faculties, such as the new certificate in entrepreneurship, available to all students at SFU. From start-up incubators that launch students' inventions to help creating new companies, universities are fuelling the entrepreneurial spirit in today's students.
You may be surprised to know that over 55% of all undergraduates at universities today have some form of experiential education, and we're working with private sector leaders and our colleagues at this table to increase that further. University research and technology parks house nearly 1,500 companies employing about 65,000 people and generating $4.3 billion annually in GDP.
All that being said, we share your concern about the future of manufacturing in this country. Visiting communities like London, Windsor, and Hamilton, we can see that we all need to draw on our best efforts to create new opportunity. That's why studies like this are important. Universities provide a unique and vital role in the growth and sustainability of industrial clusters, networks, and manufacturing plants across the country. We do this as educators and research performers and also as innovation stimulators, entrepreneurship enablers, and global connectors for all types of industrial sectors.
I'll just give a couple of examples if I may, both in the field of advanced manufacturing. The first is the Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy. It's an industrial-scale research and development lab at the University of Windsor. This facility produces world-class disruptive technology in battery-to-wheel research. The work enhances electrified vehicle technology and encourages knowledge, technology, and expertise to be transferred to industrial partners at globally competitive levels.
Universities also collaborate together and with industry to provide quick results to urgent manufacturing challenges, such as working to make electric and hybrid vehicles more common by lowering the production costs of rechargeable batteries. Watch this space in the next few weeks. For example, the engineers and scientists at Quebec-based Clariant, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Université de Montréal, and Western University, with support from CanmetMATERIALS in Hamilton, are testing new chemical processes that cut manufacturing costs in half, making electric vehicles both affordable for families and profitable for manufacturers.
My third example is the really impressive work that Siemens Canada is doing under the leadership of Bob Hardt, the CEO there. His partnership with McMaster, Mohawk, Waterloo, the University of Alberta, and NAIT is truly groundbreaking. Participating students receive exceptional training at Siemens, developing their professional skills as they work at the forefront of engineering innovation, and Siemens gets fresh talent and new ideas.
I am particularly fond of this example for a couple of reasons. First of all, it is an investment in young people and a commitment to them through the course of their studies. Second, it is an investment by private sector leaders in their future competitiveness.
The common thread in all these examples is finding ways to collaborate across business, governments, and post-secondary institutions of all kinds to draw on the unique abilities of each. How can we improve this dynamic? There are a couple of things I want to focus on. First, we need better two-way mobility or flow of talent. We are proud that more than half of all undergraduates at universities have some form of work experience in the course of their studies, but we simply don't have enough placements in the private sector. We need to work with employers, and especially with SMEs, to up their participation in taking that talent into their workplaces. That is why we join with the president and CEO of RBC, Dave McKay, in setting an ambitious goal of moving that 50% number to 100%.
His recent presentation to our members spoke of the compelling benefits of engaging students in the big challenges facing the future of banking. Earlier this week, we sent to each of your offices a short YouTube video of his remarks. I invite you to watch it. It is a five-minute highlight reel, and it is a very compelling presentation on the benefits of work-integrated learning.
We also need to find ways to increase business investment in research and development. As we look to the future and ways to drive sustained economic growth, a major concern is that from 2006 to 2013, our global ranking in business expenditures on R and D has decreased from 18th in the world to 26th. Previous studies, many of them, have suggested ways to reverse this worrying trend, and I commend those to you.
Let me close by suggesting a couple of rabbit holes to avoid. The first is to avoid the temptation to say that universities do only basic research. Universities conduct about $1 billion a year of research for the private sector, including many types of manufacturers, helping build their competitive advantage, and another $1 billion for the not-for-profit sector. Canada's universities are problem-solvers, working in your community every day.
Another one of those rabbit holes.... Please don't fall back on the framing that universities are slow and others are fast. Universities work on both very long time scales and very short ones. The work done by Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch at U of T on a summer Sunday in 1961 in discovering multipotent stem cells has led directly to the whole new field of regenerative medicine. If a government granting council insisted on immediate applicability, that work would never have been done, and the whole new sector that Toronto is enjoying right now would never have occurred.
At the other end of the time spectrum, consider Canada's response to the Ebola outbreak last year. Based on a deep understanding of the nature of the problem, Gary Kobinger and his team in Winnipeg were able to develop a vaccine that is 100% effective. The time to clinical trial was 10 months. Anyone who has been involved in the pharma industry knows that this is phenomenal speed. The trial proved 100% effective, and the vaccine is now known around the world as “the Canadian vaccine”. It is a triumph of collaboration across borders, disciplines, and sectors.
To further propel innovation and economic growth in Canada, all partners need to come to the table and commit to action.
Universities Canada will be engaging actively in the federal science, innovation and economic growth reviews to advance our vision for an innovative and inclusive Canada and talk about how Canada's universities can contribute solutions.
Higher education, government, and the private sector need to deepen their collaboration, be bold in their ambition, and do even more to connect people to ideas and better respond to the needs of our changing economy. When we combine talent development with entrepreneurial opportunity and cutting-edge research, we have what it takes to support manufacturing to achieve real change.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I am pleased to be presenting this afternoon on behalf of Canada's extensive network of colleges, institutes, CEGEPs and polytechnics. Our members serve over 1.5 million learners in 3,000 urban, rural and remote communities throughout Canada.
It's a special honour to be appearing not only alongside my esteemed colleague Mr. Davidson, but also with one of our members, MaryLynn West-Moynes, the president of Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario.
We very much welcome the committee's study on manufacturing and fully recognize the importance of this sector to Canada's economic development and future employment. Colleges and institutes have a close relationship with the manufacturing sector and it can be summed up in two words: skills and innovation.
As you all know, manufacturing has undergone dramatic changes over the past decade. The traditional assembly line is a thing of the past. The people employed by today's successful companies are working with highly sophisticated equipment and software. They're using robotics, 3D printers, computer-aided design, and state-of-the-art testing and quality assurance techniques. In addition to these job-specific abilities, employers seek graduates with strong essential skills in areas such as communications and financial literacy.
The competition for qualified labour is fierce. According to the Canadian manufacturing network, job vacancies are going unfilled because 65% of applicants lack the required skills and 53% lack sufficient work experience.
Colleges and institutes are mandated to respond very directly to these needs, with a special focus on the current and emerging requirements of the employers in their regions. This means they have especially close ties with small and medium-sized businesses, including those in the manufacturing sector where 60% of jobs are in SMEs. The certificates, diplomas, and degree programs offered by our members are all developed in consultation with employers through program advisory committees to ensure that curriculum is aligned with current needs and that graduates are job-ready. The vast majority of programs include work-integrated learning, ranging from work placements and applied research projects to co-ops, internships, and student-run enterprises. Our students get invaluable work experience and on-the-job training as part of their education, and employers get the best job interview possible.
The challenge in training for the manufacturing sector is staying current or, better yet, one step ahead. Colleges and institutes need to provide their students with access to the equipment, software, and facilities they will encounter in the workplace. Employers who want to remain competitive turn to recent graduates for the state-of-the-art knowledge and experience that will allow them to upgrade and innovate within their existing operations.
These industry-driven demands make the government's recent announcement of $2 billion in funding for post-secondary infrastructure especially welcome in our community. This will go some way to meeting the $8 billion in innovation infrastructure and equipment needs identified recently by our members.
Next Wednesday, CICan will release its applied research report for 2014-15 at a Hill Times event called “Sparking Innovation”. You'll be particularly interested to see that in 2014-15 alone, more than 5,500 private sector firms turned to the R and D services offered by colleges and institutes. Unfortunately, many more were turned away due to lack of program funding. SMEs, including microenterprises, make up 86% of these companies and more than half come from the manufacturing sector. Overall, this represents a significant portion of the 24,000 Canadian firms that conduct R and D and claim SR and ED credits.
The research services provided by colleges and institutes are highly focused on industry innovation. They meet the needs of their partners by providing access to facilities and cutting-edge equipment, and, more importantly, access to the time and expertise of professors and students.
Our projects all fall in the category of “applied research”. In manufacturing, examples would include product development and enhancement, prototyping, testing, process improvement, and experimenting with new materials and equipment. There is also support for business innovation such as improving the work environment, expanding to new markets, and developing new strategies for interacting with customers and the firms in their supply chains.
Colleges and institutes are known for their ability to respond quickly to business needs. This is particularly important for small firms whose limited resources require easy access to places where they can de-risk their innovation investments.
The vast majority of projects are completed in less than one year, with about 25% wrapped up in under six months. Faculty understand the business environment because most have worked in industry, and many have been entrepreneurs themselves. Attractive intellectual property policies generally allow partners to retain IP, which speeds project start-up time significantly.
Satisfaction with these services is evidenced by the investments that businesses themselves, including SMEs, bring to these projects. Federal research funding allocated to colleges and institutes is matched dollar for dollar by the private sector.
The involvement of students in almost every project is another defining feature of the innovation services offered by colleges and institutes. Working on an applied research project gives students experience in solving a real-world problem and developing soft skills related to communication, project management, and working in multidisciplinary teams. The chance to work directly with local entrepreneurs also gives students insights into the innovation process and how to run a business.
Our latest data show that more and more colleges and institutes are offering their services through specialized research centres and labs. The number of these facilities has more than doubled in the last five years to 763 in 2014-15, with manufacturing and building technology accounting for the largest portion. There are now 156 in operation across the country. The work they are doing makes for some great stories. For example, the technology access centre at Camosun College in Victoria, B.C., recently worked with Canadian Paralympic athletes on wheelchair seat design to maximize their performance in the 2016 Olympics.
Some of these centres are also exploring creative ways to collaborate with one another. In a couple of weeks, we'll see the formal launch of the technology access centre network, a national consortium of 25 centres that expands the very successful Réseau Trans-tech model in Quebec. Funded by NSERC, the TACCAT network aims to harmonize applied research approaches, share best practices, and foster cross-country collaboration that can benefit industry clients.
Colleges and institutes are very active in broader research networks at the local, provincial, and national levels, many of which are sector-specific. In manufacturing, a good example is the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Aerospace in Quebec, CRIAQ, which brings together a number of universities, CEGEPs, their technology transfer centres, known as CCTTs, and over 55 industry partners to identify and implement pre-competitive projects that meet the aerospace industry's requirements.
Incubators and accelerators are also becoming common features on campuses across the country. Conestoga College has a specialized accelerator called the advanced manufacturing technology catalyst. The AMT catalyst supports early-stage start-ups in Waterloo and Guelph-Wellington, providing business training, mentoring, networking, lab space, and technical support to post-secondary students and graduates. These young entrepreneurs are focused on advanced manufacturing technologies and processes related to hardware devices, medical devices, recycling technology, robotics, food manufacturing, and more. Half of those who graduated from the inaugural class have already started a business.
Mr. Chair, in closing, we know that your committee is just beginning its study of the manufacturing sector and that over the coming months you'll be very closely involved in much broader discussions about research and innovation in Canada. On behalf of colleges and institutes across the country and CICan itself, I want to convey our enthusiastic commitment to working with the government, with this committee, and with individual members of Parliament, as well as our partners in universities, industry, and communities, to leverage the full potential of our institutions to contribute to Canada's innovation agenda.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you today. I look forward to your discussions.
Good afternoon. I'm honoured to be asked to present to you today. I believe your work on this subject is critically important to Canada's economic future and the individual prosperity of all Canadians.
It's nice how this has been set up, because I'll give you the story of an institution, if I might. To introduce myself, I've had a 32-year career in post-secondary education. I have worked both in a university as a senior administrator, and in a college as a senior administrator. I am currently the president and CEO of Georgian College. We have seven campuses across central Ontario. Our largest campus is in Barrie, an hour north of Toronto.
While my remarks this afternoon will be peppered with Georgian examples, if one of my colleagues from any one of Canada's colleges were here today, they would be telling you about similar work with their own local flavour. I'm sure you will see an alignment with your colleges in your ridings as I speak.
Allow me to tell you a bit more about Georgian. We have 11,000 full-time students. Of those, 1,100 are international students from over 60 countries. We offer apprenticeship and diploma and degree programs in a wide range of disciplines. Many of our program areas directly relate to providing a highly skilled and innovative workforce to manufacturing, including programs in engineering, environmental, and other technologies. We are home to the Automotive Business School of Canada, which is enthusiastically supported by the auto sector.
Next month, if you're in the area, please drop in. Our students will mount the 31st annual edition of the Georgian College auto show, the largest student-run outdoor automotive show in North America, and over two days we usually have about 11,000 people who get to kick the tires in a non-sales environment. The industry support we have for that is quite amazing.
We operate centres for career and employment services in Barrie, Orillia, and Orangeville, and these receive federal funding through Employment Ontario. Our staff provides funds and job-specific training to manufacturers across our region through numerous programs. To give you an example, last month we did customized training to provide 80 staff members to auto parts maker, KTH Shelburne Manufacturing.
I'm very proud to say Georgian graduates get jobs. In 2015 we achieved the highest graduate employment rate of all English-speaking Ontario colleges: 87.8% of our graduates got jobs within six months. Part of the reason for this success, I believe, is that we are Ontario's number one co-op college. We offer co-op programs in almost all of our programs, resulting in paid work terms. Last year 4,000 of our students completed co-op work terms with one of the 6,200 partners we have doing co-op with us annually.
When you think of a college, you first think of students in apprenticeship and diploma programs. People are absolutely astounded when they hear that on our campus 10% of our enrolment was in degrees last year, and what's even more interesting, 750 students are taking one-year certificates, having already got a college or university degree, in a fast-track career-focused program, so they can get experience and ultimately a job.
There is more. Colleges have really become the go-to resource for local business and industry. We are collaborating with Simcoe County and the City of Barrie right now to conduct an environmental scan on the state of manufacturing in our region. We've been at this for about four months. It's early days, but there is already much we know.
Between 2006 and 2011, Simcoe County's manufacturing sector shed almost 6,400 workers, which represents a decline of about 19.4%. That's about equivalent to what's going on in the rest of the country. While manufacturing has struggled in recent years, it remains a strong contributor to our regional economy, with 22,000 workers making up more than 10% of our local labour force.
The promising news from this study is that Simcoe County projects manufacturing employment will grow by 1,650 jobs in the next five years. A key finding of our study to date is that local manufacturers are excited about the advances in such areas as green energy, robotics, and automation, and they want to discover how materials evolve over time and how to ensure efficiency in their own manufacturing process.
There's a very encouraging statistic, that 85% of the manufacturers we've interviewed so far are prepared to accommodate change quickly. That's the key: they're ready to make change. They know this means R and D, upgrading of machinery, and training of employees, and they know that they need help with this to be successful. We're hearing this more among the small companies. I'm sure that's no surprise to any of you.
Let me give you an example.
One of our large donors at Georgian is Wolf Steel-Napoleon—a great story, by the way, if you have time to look them up, about a guy who started by creating a heating system in a garage and has turned it into a manufacturing company with more than 1,200 employees throughout the world. It's about to grow another 200 workers, thanks to a $4.2 million FedDev grant to expand its business in the American-dominated HVAC market. This is a success story.
The federal government is investing in Wolf Steel. Wolf Steel is investing in Georgian by hiring more than a dozen co-op students every year in a number of programs, particularly heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning, but also in electrical engineering, computing, business programs, and human resources and accounting. We are close partners in both workforce development and research.
Currently our students and faculty are working with Wolf Steel to improve issues with uptime and quality in a robotic welding cell. This kind of research project whereby students can engage is key to that business's growth. It's aimed at finding answers to specific questions and solving real work problems today.
Last year, we worked with 98 industry partners like Wolf Steel on more than 120 projects just like that one. Our work with Ford Canada and the electrical utility power stream is a unique applied research initiative to better understand electric vehicles, their charging demands, and their impact on the grid through level 2 charging stations on our campus.
We all know research has become vital to our economy. While Georgian is proud of what we are accomplishing in this area, we know there's more to do.
Three days ago, we submitted a proposal to the federal government's post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund for a $10.8 million contribution investment in an advanced technology and innovation research centre on our Barrie campus. A highlight of this proposal is to create a centre for research and innovation.
Here's what's key about this proposal.
Our municipal partners from Simcoe County and the City of Barrie are so committed to this project that they have jointly pledged $10 million, half of the money to make this project work. They feel it is so important to bring something like this to our community that they're prepared to put up 50 cents on the dollar.
The centre will be a place in which industry and academia will test concepts, incubate new projects, and virtually kick-start our new economy. Simcoe County does not have—in fact, none of central Ontario has—a dedicated facility of any kind to research, accelerate, or commercialize a product. This facility will be fundamental to the economic growth and prosperity of central Ontario.
Our partners tell us that the other critical factor to manufacturing success in our region is a highly skilled workforce. The Canadian occupational project system predicts many engineering occupations will face labour shortages between 2015 and 2024. It's obvious that the demand is there. Regional engineering job opportunities are projected to grow by approximately 6% without injecting innovation and research opportunities.
To give you an example of the demand, our enrollment in diploma and technology programs at Georgian has increased by more than 15% over the last three years.
We plan to meet the future need by introducing the first engineering degrees in central Ontario in an innovative, integrated degree-diploma program with Lakehead University. This is where the two sectors can come together and create the best of both worlds. Students will graduate job-ready with both a diploma and a degree, the best of a college, the best of a university, in just four years, prepared to lead in local industry and innovation.
To prepare for today, I asked our staff and partners what they wanted me to tell you on their behalf. Here's what they said, and this won't surprise you.
Number one, consider the burden involved in applying for and achieving any government grant funding. I'm sure you've never heard that before from business and industry.
Fund a skill-specific workforce developed for manufacturers to help workers and employers adapt to the changes in emerging technologies.
Also fund and support open innovation. You can facilitate the collision of the innovation ecosystem with manufacturing in so many ways by bringing other sectors to the table in what I like to think of as a sandbox.
I'd add to the list myself. Support the link between entrepreneurship, innovation, and research. We have an entrepreneurship centre on our campus. We don't have the innovation and research to close that whole loop.
Continue to support applied research. I personally don't believe colleges should become university research facilities, but I do believe we can leverage our excellent relationships with business and industry, and continue to add value on the applied side in a very meaningful way.
Increase access to commercialization organizations across Canada and provide high access to the Internet in areas such as in central Ontario, which has a very low bandwidth capability. It is hard to attract manufacturing in communities that are low.
I want to close by congratulating the federal government on its current infrastructure funding plans for post-secondary sectors. The criteria is built on advancing innovation, and I believe it is exactly what is needed in our community, and no doubt in communities across the country.
Georgian is willing and ready, as I am sure all colleges in Canada are, to be an equal partner and drive meaningful innovation—