OFA – Wanted: Bigger skilled workforce for Ontario agriculture

By Drew Spoelstra, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Ontario agriculture and agri-food sectors drive the local economy. But to maintain the momentum and grow our industry even further, we need continued access to skilled agricultural workers. That’s why the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has made agri-skills training one of four key election issues we’re focusing on with candidates in the lead up to the June 12 provincial election.

Listen here:

New graduates in agricultural degree and diploma programs in Ontario have a bright future. According to recent research from the University of Guelph, there are three jobs waiting for every agriculture degree graduate and two jobs for every diploma graduate. That’s the good news. The agri-food sector is strong, vibrant and holds great promise now and for future generations.

The bad news is our skills training isn’t keeping pace. We need to ensure there are enough high quality agri-skills training opportunities available in Ontario so we can fill all the available jobs in the agri-food sector.

The OFA wants agri-skills training and development to be a priority for government and at academic institutions. We need to provide the skilled workers our sector needs to fuel growth, innovation and the economy.

Agriculture is already big business for the province. Agriculture’s farm and food sector employs 10% of the province’s workforce and contributes $33 billion to the economy every year. Ongoing training is critical to provide the skilled workforce needed to keep this sector strong.

The OFA is adamant on the need for a commitment to ongoing agri-skills training to develop and build the skills needed to grow Ontario’s agri-food sector. We need a plan, investment and support for agricultural training institutions. We need the province to work with universities and colleges to be sure we can meet the agri-food skills demand, today and tomorrow. And we need agri-food to be on the list of career opportunities within the primary and secondary school systems.

At a time when so many sectors and regions are struggling to provide enough jobs to match the need, Ontario agriculture can celebrate the abundant opportunities for new graduates. Now it’s time to make sure our universities and colleges keep pace with facilities and resources to train an even bigger workforce for Ontario agriculture.

For more information about agri-skills training, and all OFA election issues, visit our provincial election site at GrowingOntario.ofa.on.ca