Bridging the gap between the agri-workforce and the next generation of workers: CAHRC’s important role

4 décembre 2023

Canada has long been considered a world-class sustainable food producer. Whether or not it can maintain this reputation into the future, however, is unclear. By 2030, it’s projected that the country will be short more than 100,000 agricultural workers. Still, despite the looming threat to the labour market, there has been a positive development: an increase in both post-secondary enrolment and programs that provide education in agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing

The remaining challenge is to connect this new growth to the agriculture workforce. In CAHRC’s recent research on work-integrated learning, it was found nearly half of food and beverage companies rated educational programs designed to produce graduates for the sector as either “inadequate” or “non-existent.” The sector also reported that a lack of qualified applicants or lack of applicants with proper training posed the most significant challenges related to human resources and workforce development.

CAHRC is facing this challenge head-on with programming geared to equip the next generation of workersThrough various initiatives, CAHRC connects eager, skilled young workers across the country with employers who are willing to train students on the job. 

A talent pipeline from post-secondary to the labour force

CAHRC’s Growing Opportunities program serves as a nexus for employers and aspiring workers who seek integrated on-the-job learning – also known as work-integrated learning. This kind of hands-on, experiential learning is viewed by experts as a best practice in post-secondary education. 

Employers who participate in the Growing Opportunities program are granted access to Canada’s largest online campus recruiting platform. The one million post-secondary students who use this program each year are looking for work. When employers hire local post-secondary students in either full-time or part-time positions in the agricultural workforce, they can then apply for up to $7,000 in wage subsidy support from the Canadian government. This program isn’t solely for agriculture students, either. As CAHRC looks to support growth and development throughout the agriculture sector, Growing Opportunities is designed to attract students from non-traditional fields whose educations, skill sets and aspirations are well-placed for careers in the agri-industry. 

To further support on-the-job training and workforce development, CAHRC also delivers the AgriWorkplace Skills Training Program. This pilot program is designed to support employers and the next generation of workers equally. Right now, it’s open to primary agriculture producers. This includes sectors like apple, beef, crops, dairy, green housing, mushrooms, and pork. Employers in these agriculture sectors can access up to $5,000 in wage subsidies for each new employee they train. The employee, on the other hand, benefits from access to wrap-around support for childcare and transportation costs, a training completion bonus, and professional development. 

CAHRC’s work doesn’t stop with these two programs. Our national organization is committed to enhancing experiential learning and increasing collaboration between employers and post-secondary institutions to not only improve work-integrated learning opportunities but also make them more strategic and aligned with the needs of the agriculture and agri-food sectors.