The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) and the Future Skills Centre (FSC) are partnering with the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Food and Beverage Canada in developing a National Workforce Strategy. The project will address the persistent and growing labour and skills shortages affecting Canada’s agriculture and food processing industries.
“The agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing sector must address these ongoing labour challenges in order to remain viable and competitive,” said Paul Glenn, CAHRC Chair. “As a significant contributor to the economic health of Canada, it is essential that there be a sufficient, predictable, reliable, and skilled workforce in place to support the success of the sector. The need for this strategy has never been stronger.”
Labour force shortages have plagued the agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing sector for the past decade. By 2025, food and beverage manufacturing businesses located across the country will experience an employment gap of up to 65,000 people. Compounding the issue, recently published CAHRC research revealed that Canadian farmers suffered lost earnings of $2.9 B in 2020, equivalent to 4.2 per cent of the sector’s total sales, due to labour shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The agricultural and food and beverage manufacturing sector is undergoing a huge transformation and there is a significant need to prepare the workforce with the necessary skills to meet future needs,” said Pedro Barata, Executive Director of the Future Skills Centre. “Developing a national strategy to look at upskilling workers and future labour needs will be vital to ensure the strength of this industry. This project will provide vital labour market research to address these challenges, and it is a perfect example of the projects FSC is investing in to identify new and better practices for the workforce of the future.”
The first year of this two-year project will examine the workforce shortage issue from several angles. It will start by gathering information about programs and services that have already been developed, then identify gaps and recommend development of new programs and tools as needed. Promotion of existing programs and services will be key as well as engaging the development of new tools as recommended by industry.
The second year will see the development of the National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing and related tools through extensive collaboration with industry associations, government, and education stakeholders. The strategy will outline a vision for the future, priorities, and stakeholder commitments, then map out the actions and tools needed based on the research findings.
CAHRC’s partners will be directly involved in the project by participating in the National Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing Workforce Strategy Consortium, a project Advisory Group, and a series of working groups to guide the progress of the project.
As Canada’s agri-workforce centre of excellence, CAHRC has been working with industry associations, educators, and all levels of government to examine issues and build meaningful solutions for more than ten years. This includes leading numerous labour market information, research and agriskills development projects, which provide meaningful data and tools to meet the needs of the agriculture industry. Some of these agriculture-specific human resource (HR) tools include Agri Skills, an online and in-person training program, and the Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide with templates to address the HR needs of any business. For agricultural organizations there are customized labour issues briefings that apply the new research to specific commodities and provinces, to explore the labour implications within their specific area. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.
The National Workforce Strategy for Agriculture and Food and Beverage Manufacturing project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre.