The lowdown on CAHRC’s Growing Opportunities program: why it was created and what you need to know

March 11, 2024

It’s no secret that the agriculture sector is dealing with a chronic worker shortage. CAHRC’s recent LMI forecast provides further insight into what could be expected in the future. For instance, by 2030, it’s anticipated that more than 100,000 jobs will need to be filled across the sector in Canada. We also know that over this same timeline, 85,000 people — or 30 per cent of the workforce — are expected to retire. 

At CAHRC, we are about creating solutions to address the industry’s labour-force and HR-related challenges. We launched the Growing Opportunities program to provide businesses in agriculture with subsidies so they can hire post-secondary students. Although the program has only been in place since the fall of 2021, more than 150 employers have benefited from more than 350 student placements. 

The program helps employers address their immediate and short-term workforce needs, while inspiring the next generation to choose agriculture career paths for their future. 

Growing Opportunities continues to be available for employers to take advantage of. Let’s break down the details:

Who can apply and participate? 

The Growing Opportunities program is available to registered Canadian businesses and not-for-profit organizations from the agriculture industry. This includes businesses and organizations related to primary production (both crops and livestock), greenhouses, horticulture, aquaculture, veterinary clinics servicing farm animals/livestock, farm equipment dealerships, input dealers and even agriculture-focused media agencies. 

Eligible students include those registered as a domestic student in a full- or part-time program at any recognized Canadian post-secondary institution. They must also take a work placement recognized by their institution as a work-integrated learning component in connection with a course, degree, certificate or diploma.

Employers can sign up any time for Outcome Campus Connect, Canada’s largest online campus recruiting platform, and submit a funding application along with a job posting. CAHRC notifies the employer within 14 days whether they are eligible for the subsidy program.

Assessments for funding 

Through Growing Opportunities, agri-employers can receive 50 per cent of the wages (to a maximum of $5,000) for each net new placement. Additionally, employers who hire students from under-represented groups — including women in science, technology, engineering and math; Indigenous students; newcomers; persons with disabilities; visible minorities; and first-year students — can receive up to 70 per cent of the wages (to a maximum of $7,000) for each net new placement.

An employer’s eligibility for program funding is assessed based on the criteria called “net new.” Program subsidies will only support hiring additional students that the employer would not be able to hire without the funding support.

For employers who have received funding over a previous program year, they will still be asked how many students they hired the year prior to first accessing SWPP funding. Employers must hire more than that previous, baseline year to receive funds for additional hires in the current year.

A seamless process with employer demands in mind 

CAHRC understands how demanding it is to run an agricultural business. This is why we designed the Growing Opportunities program to be as hassle-free as possible. There is minimal paperwork — the application is completed online, taking roughly 20-30 minutes per student. 

Once a student is hired, CAHRC confirms student eligibility with the employer. The student and employer are then approved and wage is reimbursed to the employer within 45 days of the end of the work term.

For more information

For more information on the Growing Opportunities Work Placement Program, see the CAHRC website or contact Megan Lockhart, AgriTalent Project Coordinator at