New research to address labour shortage in farming industry

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November 27, 2014 9:07 AM

The Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council is conducting a research project to figure out ways to help farmers across the country address the industry’s labour shortage.

The information gathered from the National Agricultural Occupational Framework and Labour Market Support (NAOF) will be used to build support tools and assess labour requirements that will help farmers find and keep job-ready employees in various agriculture positions.

“So with this we are going to capture detailed occupational information across all the levels of experience and across commodity areas as well,” said Jade Reeve, NAOF project manager. “This is the reference material; the critical research that’s going to provide the tools that we’re defining for the industry.”

The research will also give up-to-date information on drops in the industry and provide policy makers with a new benchmark in helping them make better decisions when it comes to agriculture. Education will also be impacted as educators can use the research to design training that best addresses the industry’s needs.

“What we’re trying to do with this project is make sure that some of the industry’s concerns are addressed with access to labour,” said Reeve. “In addition, we’re also working with a number of agricultural organizations who are concerned about the labour shortage. So together we’re hoping to be able to work and solve this problem or at least address the issues around ensuring an adequate and reliable workforce.”

Though the project itself has only been initiated just recently, the CAHRC has been conducting foundational research for roughly six years, trying to find out the needs and concerns of farmers across the country. What they discovered is that human resources seems to be the biggest risk factor.

The agriculture industry has made decent advancements regarding production but often fails to meet targets because a lack of workers.

“So partly this is an issue facing all industries of Canada, because as the Canadian workforce is aging and workers are retiring, we’re not being able to replace those workers,” explained Reeve. “Agriculture really needs to be able to have the industry be well-marketed and understood as well as have it be a great place for youths and entrepreneurial interests, so we can replace these workers.”

The NAOF project, which will be completed by December 2016, is enormous in scope and will involve a great many people. From their large research team, network of stakeholders, educational community and provincial governments to any Canadian farmers interested in giving their two cents.

The group wants to reach out to farmers through surveys, interviews and networking opportunities to make sure they have all the correct information. Because the industry is large and diverse they feel it’s important to get everyone’s say during their research.

“It’s really a unique opportunity for Canadian producers to make their labour needs known and really help shape the future farm labour system in Canada. So now is the time to act,” said Reeve. “If people are interested in participating in this research, we encourage them to contact us because we can cover some travel expenses and ensure that their participation is valuable to us.

“We want to get this information right.”

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