Council addresses ag labour shortage

Council addresses ag labour shortage
Oct 10, 2018

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CAHRC launches a comprehensive survey to gain insight on Canada’s agricultural workforce

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is conducting a survey to examine the state of Canada’s ag workforce.

This survey will provide comprehensive labour market information and is a follow-up to the council’s 2014 research project, a CAHRC release said yesterday.

Unemployment “affects the agricultural industry as a whole. In our last survey, we found that the industry lost $1.5 billion in revenue as a result of (producers) not finding enough people to work on their farms,” Debra Hauer, manager of CAHRC’s AgriLMI, said to Farms.com today.   

“What we are trying to do is find out how the situation has changed in the last four years and what the picture looks like now.” 

In total, 26,400 jobs went unfilled in Canada’s ag sector, the previous survey found. This employment shortage is projected to rise to an alarming 114,000 workers by 2025.

The organization looks to capture a broad spectrum of information, including national, provincial and commodity-specific forecasts of ag labour supply and demand through to 2029, the release said.

The Conference Board of Canada is conducting the survey and hopes to collect responses from over 1,000 producers, farm workers and stakeholder organizations.

The survey will be live from Oct. 12 to Nov. 30 and can be accessed here.

Responses are confidential and will help industry, governments and educators find solutions to the labour shortage, the release said.

“Understanding the evolving needs of producers, farm workers and industry stakeholders is key in resolving the labour challenges facing the agricultural sector,” Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, executive director of the CAHRC, said in the release. 

“We need to clarify the impacts of new technology, new production techniques, expanding demand, modified regulatory regimes and continued labour constraints in order to know what jobs and skills are required in the future.”

The labour gap is mainly caused by the seasonal nature of farm work and the rural locations of operations, the release said. The lack of adequate workers limits famers’ abilities to produce to capacity or expand production.   

The results of this year’s survey will be available in the spring. The study will provide valuable information about Canada’s labour farm shortage as well as which policies and programs are needed to overcome this challenge.

“It is important to get out the word out there that agriculture is a growing industry, the employment in the industry is increasing …  (and) we need more people with (relevant) skills,” Hauer said.

Charles Knowles photo

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