"TRADE, TECHNOLOGY AND TOMORROW"
Lloyd R. McGinnis, P.Eng. Chairman, Canadian Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO, Wardrop Engineering
Chairman: Nona Macdonald President
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce comprises 170,000 businesses of all types and has 500 local chambers. Its objectives include bringing the business viewpoint to the federal Government and to persuade on policies to foster a he althy economic environment.
Lloyd MCGInnis was elected chairman of this empire in 1986. He held the presidency of Winnipeg's Chamber of Commerce in 1982-83. He brings a background of professionalism, world awareness and humanitarianism to the job. Commitment is the link that binds these qualities.
Since obtaining his Civil Engineering degree from the University of Manitoba and his Master's degree in Transportation, Engineering and Urban Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology, he has made entrepreneurial gains throughout the world.
From Africa to the Arctic, he has directed and developed programmes for water supplies and transportation and, while in Third World countries, he set up community projects for the underprivileged and created selfhelp programmes.
For example, in Ghana, he integrated a complex rural four-year development programme recognised by CIDA as one of the best of its kind. Now 54, he is President and CEO of W.L. Wardrop and Associates Limited, with its head office in his home city of Winnipeg and with branches in
Toronto, Thunder Bay and Edmonton. The company applies advanced technology to all fields of engineering, providing management and personnel training. The work has brought new systems to Cuba, Mexico, the Ivory Coast, Iran, Ghana, Nigera and, of course, closer to home, in the Northwest Territories and central Canada.
Appointments and honours have followed. Among these, Mr. McGinnis was named a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers in 1985, and a year later received a Gold Medal Award of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers. His voluntary work has been focussed on youth as chairman of Young Life, a Christian organisation devoted to helping young people avoid drugs and alcohol.
As an active Rotarian-he is president this year of Winnipeg's Rotary Chapter-he is known for spearheading a new approach to raising funds to help the poor in Developing Countries.
He has been chairman of the Winnipeg Business Development Corporation and a member of Premier Howard Pauley's Economic Advisory Panel and Job Fund Programme and was just appointed to Prime Minister Mulroney's National Advisory Board on Science and Technology.
Ladies and gentlemen, who better to speak on "Trade, Technology and Tomorrow" than Lloyd McGinnis?
Lloyd R. McGinnis
I feel privileged indeed to be invited here today and look forward to sharing some viewpoints with you.
In addition to all the other things I do as Chairman of the Board of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, two of my personal priorities are to make Canadians aware that:
1. Exports are of paramount importance to our future;
2. Advanced technology is our only hope of meeting global competition.
I do so, because 1 believe that job opportunities for Canadians are at stake.
Export trade is more important to Canada than to any other nation, except one. But most Canadians do not realise this. Nor do they realise that we can no longer rely totally on our resource industries. In the past, our resource industries always bailed us out. But we can no longer rely on this safety net. At the moment, worldwide demand for our resource products is diminishing. And at the same time, there is a glut on the market of cheap supplies from elsewhere. So we need markets, wherever we can find them. That's what the trade talks are all about.
Since our resource industries are no longer our safety net, and since job creation in the resource sector is likely to be limited in any case, if it's jobs we want, we have to look elsewhere. The only card we have left to play is the high-tech card. And it's about time we made plans to play it!
Because Canada needs a technological shot in the arm, and because future exports are tied to technology, my second thrust is to encourage Canadian businesses to take advantage of new advances in technology.
Our surveys show that only nine percent of our businesses-think about it!-only nine percent of Canadian businesses consider access to advanced technology as being important to their future. They don't seem to realise that exports and new technology go hand in hand. They don't seem to realise that, if we are to compete in the global marketplace of tomorrow, we must use every piece of technology we can get our hands on.
When I was in Korea in the mid '70s, its competitive edge was low wages and long hours. However, if you go to Korea or Taiwan today, you will still see relatively low wages and long hours. But in addition, you will see automation, robotics, and sophisticated manufacturing techniques. They've got what we've got-and more.
Most Canadians don't realise this. Also, most Canadians do not realise what is happening around them. Nor how rapidly these changes are taking place.
Let me give you some examples of what is happening in this global game of knowledge:
Coloured TVs manufactured in America use Japanese parts. As the Koreans enter the TV market, they, too, will use Japanese parts. So the high-profit end of the market-the knowledge part-stays with the Japanese.
At this very moment, if you want an option to an Apple computer, you can get a Pineapple from Korea or a Peach from Taiwan at a much lower cost.
The electronic copying and marketing by our competitors is getting so sophisticated that, only hours after a new book is released in North America, it is on the bookstands of the globe for a fraction of the original cost.
The problems of our nation are further demonstrated when we compare ourselves to our competitors. On a per-capita basis: we have only half the scientists and engineers that they do; only a fraction of the robots; and our research and development is also less than half; others rate our managers as twenty-third out of the twenty-four industrial nations with regard to our aptitude to adapting new technology to Canadian industries.
In addition to these constraints, there is a nontechnology bias in our education system. Science and technology continue to be taught as if they were subjects that existed apart from society and the workplace. At the same time, our education system has public-sector orientation. There is practically no emphasis on entrepreneurship, and what there is is weak.
The jobs of the future are not where we found them in the past. The jobs of the future are not in the public sector. They are not in the Crown corporations and utilities. Jobs of the future are in the private sector. And most of these jobs will be tied to service/information and advanced-technology endeavours. And they will emerge from our small businesses.
So what does all this mean? To me, it is patently clear. Our very standard of living is being threatened.
It is also patently clear that if we are to preserve what we have, we must take advantage of the technology available to us. If we continue to rely only on our resource and massmanufacturing industries, if we do not take advantage of the technology at our doorstep, we will have to lower the Canadian dollar to the level of the peso in order to compete. And in the process, every dollar in our RRsP's and pension plans will be as worthless as the coloured paper you use in your Monopoly games.
So, my friends in the business world. Welcome to the Canadian economic environment. Welcome to the global scene unfolding before us. Welcome to reality.
Although the picture I paint may appear bleak to you, there is no need to panic. Far from it. All we have to do is come to grips with the reality of the situation and start working our way out of the malaise. This is where you and I come into the picture.
I am here to tell you that individuals such as we can make a difference to the environment in which we work and play. We not only can-I believe we must-make a difference. So I am challenging you to make plans to make a difference.
To make a difference:
We need leadership in business, in government and in education.
We need people who can take on a modern challenge. We need individuals who will help foster the potential entrepreneurs around us, particularly the young entrepreneurs.
There is no question in my mind:
unless-we rapidly access the new technology that envelops us;
unless-we develop a mind-set that enables us to compete with the best;
unless-we enhance our economy with increased exports; and unless-we equip our young people to cope with what lies ahead; our very standard of living is truly being threatened.
For far too long, now, we have enjoyed the luxury of pulling the wool over our own eyes. And in the process we have killed the goose that laid the golden egg-and pumped the goose dry. The time has come to change our ways.
Change is the order of the day. So much so, we had better start incorporating it into our plans for survival. There are so many changes taking place in most of our industries, with everyone having to learn new tasks and take on new jobs, that we find our staff spending more and more time in the washrooms. There is good reason for it. It's the only place in the plant where they really know what they are doing. Part of our task is to make sure that we know what we are doing. Also, part of our task is to make sure:
that there is a national policy for technological development that is relevant to the times;
that there will be ample opportunity for appropriate and continuing education;
and that funds are available to carry out the research and development we so desperately need to keep pace with global competition.
We Canadians at this very moment are involved in a worldwide race for technological survival. History teaches us that economic and social advantage is always held by those nations skilled in the development and application of new technology. So one of my concerns is that history will repeat itself. But, this time--at our expense.
Because of our heritage, because we have done so well so far, one might assume that we in the Canadian business community are well positioned to take advantage of what lies ahead. In some respects, maybe we are. But in others, I am not so sure. I am not so sure that we are not running the risk of leaving our destiny in the hands of others. Leaving our destiny to chance.
The implications of the changes taking place around us are so profound that we must ensure that the business community is fully cognizant of the challenge that lies ahead. We must make sure our young people, particularly new graduates, recognise where the jobs of tomorrow lie. We must be absolutely certain that they recognise the importance of holding a high-tech card and that they have an appreciation of when and where and how they might be able to play that card.
I am concerned that the young people coming out of our high schools, our colleges and universities today, will not have the entrepreneurial spirit-the desire to achieve and the will to win-that they will need to compete in the global marketplace of tomorrow.
Many young people know that, if they are to have jobs, they will have to carve them out for themselves. And in the process, they will have to become entrepreneurs. Because it is in entrepreneurship where most of the job opportunities of the future lie.
Sure-some of the traditional jobs will still be around. Sure-we will have to export.
Sure-we will have to make use of the new technology. Sure-we will have to become a knowledge-oriented __ society.
But it is entrepreneurship that will make the difference. Because it is entrepreneurship that will allow us to compete in the global marketplace of the future.
The time has come to reduce our reliance on natural resources and place our faith in our human resources. From now on, we must live by out wits and our intellect. Our brainpower has become our most important resource.
I am becoming more and more convinced that what we have to do, we have to do ourselves, Gone is our resourceindustry safety net. Gone are the excess funds that once enabled us to bask in such luxury.
When we as typical Canadian businessmen or women get into trouble, instead of coming to grips with the reality of the situation, we pray to God that we will win a lottery. That's right. As typical businessmen and women, we get down on our knees in our place of worship and say, "Please God, I no longer can afford to spend the winters in Florida. Let me win a lottery." But God does not answer.
And as things get worse, we go once again to our place of worship and say, "Please God, the competition is taking my customers; imports are killing me; I'm going to lose my house; let me win a lottery." But God does not answer.
And then, finally, in desperation we pray again. "I'm going bankrupt; my wife has left me; please God let me win a lottery." And suddenly there is a crash of thunder, flash of lightning and God speaks: "Meet me halfway, will you? Buy a ticket."
We in the business community have to stop praying for handouts. We have to meet the reality head on, not just half-way. We have to get on with the task of getting our own house in order and develop a mindset that will enable us to compete with the best.
Let's face it, our safety net is gone. What we have to do, we have to do ourselves.
One last point: Make sure you understand where your security blanket lies. Regardless of your age or your line of business, your security blanket of the future does not lie in: your education and your degrees; or in the amount of money you make; or the titles you hold. It also does not lie in: the size of your business; or the union you belong to; or the government position you hold. Your security blanket of the future lies only in your ability to cope with what lies ahead.
If we are to maintain our standard of living, if we are to continue to have the privilege of this paradise of ours, our society of tomorrow will have to be a knowledge and technology-intensive society.
If we are to create such a society, maintain it and enjoy it, somehow we will have to throw off the shackles of the safety nets of the past and develop the ability to cope with what lies ahead.
I happen to be one of those Canadians who believes we have a fantastic future ahead of us, if we play our cards right and if we play them now. The opportunities are on our doorstep. I invite you to recognise them and to take advantage of them, because the nat:on's future well-being is wrapped up in our ability to do so.
The world in which we Canadians will live in the future is the world we envisage for ourselves-today.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by John Herrick, Third Vice-President of The Empire Club of Canada. and Vice Chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.