Farming continues to be a crucial part of Saskatchewan living, but the number of people who can assist in that part of life are drastically decreasing.
The gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agricultural industry could be short workers for 114,000 jobs, according to a release from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC). The organization recently released Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future, in which research also revealed that primary agriculture has the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent.
“The sustainability and future growth of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry is at risk,” said Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, CAHRC executive director. “It is critically important that this risk is acknowledged and mitigated in an intentional and strategic way.”
The agriculture industry has been making extensive efforts to encourage young people and workers from other sectors to get into agriculture as a career, but gaps still exist and there still will be a large void in the future.
Labour shortages create risks to farmers who can only hope they will have the same or greater access to both domestic and foreign workers in the future as they do now, said the release. The study examined only primary production so other important agri-food industries such as food and beverage processors or input suppliers, which have additional labour demands, were not considered in the research.
The research indicates that the worker shortage is critical today and will be even more so 10 years from now which will result in potentially serious consequences for business viability, industry sustainability and future growth. Access to less labour for Canadian farmers now and into the future will affect food security for Canadian consumers and will also affect export potential of Canada’s entire agri-food industry.
CAHRC is working with the Government of Canada to address the labour issue by developing agriculture-specific human resource (HR) tools designed to support modern farm operations. CAHRC offers online and in-person training programs called Agri Skills and the Agri HR Toolkit, which is an online resource guide. For agricultural organizations there are customized labour issues briefings that apply the new research to specific commodities and provinces.
Those who wish for more information or who wish to download the research may visit the CAHRC website.