It is a unique but exciting time to explore career opportunities in the agri-food labour market. Although working in agriculture is often narrowly portrayed, in-demand careers include administration, communications, trades, finance, information technology, engineering and food science.
Why it matters: The agricultural sector is not only the traditional labour force it once was. With new roles evolving, we must call on diverse disciplines and skill sets to ensure the sector’s future.
The evolving job market welcomes all interests and backgrounds to create an even stronger and resilient sector. On the Feeding Your Future website, the Ag @ Work page highlights the #FeatureYourFuture social media campaign, sharing career stories of people in the industry to inspire others to consider a rewarding agri-food career. Virtually every field of study and expertise could be of value to the agri-food sector.
Meena Hassanali works for the Regional Municipality of York as an Agriculture and Agri-Food Business Specialist. She has experience coordinating industry programs and award-winning sustainability resources. Hassanali grew up in Africa and at the age of 19 decided to move to Canada, pursuing a degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of Toronto. Growing up in Kenya, sustainable agriculture was Hassanali’s family’s way of life. This inspired her to combine the world of business with environmental sustainability and without realizing it, she integrated her life and career into the agricultural sector.
In another case, Conor McGrandles is a digital marketing and communications intern for AgCareers.com and CareersInFood.com.
McGrandles earned a degree in Communications from Wilfrid Laurier University in addition to a certificate in Public Relations and Digital Marketing from Conestoga College. With no background in agriculture, McGrandles never imagined he would be in a role that encourages people to work in the agriculture sector. He says he has learned so much about the industry and appreciates the transferable skills he has gained in this position.
Both Hassanali and McGrandles have expressed their appreciation for the community in agriculture that is open to teaching. Many industry initiatives are stepping up to share information about the sector.
Feeding Your Future has released a Focus on Food and Focus on Livestock video series to showcase experiences from farm owners and employees on farms across Ontario. To complement this video series, a training certificate was developed with the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus. This certificate offers basic on-farm health and safety training to raise awareness for those new to the sector.
Additionally, Utensil.ca is offering training about the language and culture within agriculture. AgScape has been working with elementary and high schools to provide insight into the agriculture industry and potential careers in the sector.
Training opportunities to provide knowledge that can be applied to various positions within the agri-food sector are at our fingertips. These initiatives are making great steps towards better cohesion between producers and consumers that can continue to build within the agri-food community. We must embrace the growth of the agricultural sector by welcoming all educational backgrounds and interests.