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CAHRC assisting Saskatchewan Abilities Council to fill jobs in agriculture

April 11, 2016 - The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) is working with the Saskatchewan Abilities Council to match people with disabilities with job opportunities in agriculture. 

This work is part of CAHRC’s Labour Market Information (LMI) research examining workforce potential and possible barriers with under-represented groups such as people with disabilities, Aboriginal people and immigrants in the agriculture and agri-food industry. The research will also identify labour and skill gaps, investigate opportunities and barriers, and examine future labour trends to clarify Canada’s agricultural labour market situation and future requirements provincially, nationally and by commodity.

In support of the Addressing Barriers research, CAHRC has two pilot projects currently underway in which employment coordinators are working with agricultural businesses to place potential workers. One is with the Saskatchewan Abilities Council in Saskatoon and the other is the Calgary Catholic Immigrant Society. Both of these initiatives are working to pair their respective clientele with employers in the area from now through to the fall of 2016. Information and lessons learned from these projects will be applied to help other similar placements across the country.

“This project provides many benefits for all involved,” says Emily Hurd, Senior Supervisor, Saskatchewan Abilities Council. “For agricultural employers it is an opportunity to gain a richer understanding of persons with disabilities and the wide range of skills and abilities they can bring to the workplace. For persons with disabilities, it is an opportunity for them to apply their diverse range of skills, abilities and qualifications while learning more about the agricultural industry.”

“The Council is continually working with numerous groups to develop and enhance the agricultural and agri-food workforce for Canada,” explains Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, Executive Director of CAHRC.  “There are many stimulating and rewarding careers in agriculture and agri-food and we want to ensure that people – both potential employers and employees - know about the opportunities that are available.”

The research has shown that the key reason why potential workers in these under-represented groups and their employment services agencies do not consider work in agriculture is because they don’t know or understand the skills needed or the jobs that are available. Other detractions include lack of transportation in rural areas, communications and language barriers, and perceptions of employer attitudes.

“There are limitless opportunities in agriculture and agri-food today,” explains MacDonald-Dewhirst. “We are working with our stakeholders through our projects and research to grow the agricultural workforce for Canada including initiatives to employ people with disabilities and attract groups currently under-represented in the agricultural workforce.”