Attracting skilled farm labour

June 16, 2010
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June 17, 2010, Calgary – “Today’s and Tomorrow’s Farms: Employment and Skills Development” was the theme surrounding a national forum held in Calgary this week, organized by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).

Producers from across the country joined members of general farm organizations, representatives from post-secondary institutions and government to discuss employment and skills development issues particular to primary agriculture. The forum was the culmination of a series of regional meetings held across the country over the past several months.

The council also announced its most recent initiative, the Leadership Assessment project. Leadership skills are required in the industry to lead the increasingly complex businesses within the agricultural sector in today’s environment. While a range of successful and much-needed programs are available across Canada, none offer a focus on developing HR leadership on the farm. As a key component of this project, CAHRC will work with stakeholders to define and assess the skills and knowledge necessary for farmers to develop effective HR practices.

Terry Murray, chair of CAHRC’s board of directors and member of the Wild Rose Agricultural Producers, Alberta’s largest producer-funded general farm organization, stressed the need for leadership within the industry’s current labour market as well as the need to raise the bar on employment and skills development to assist in the recruitment and retention of employees. “Building Canada’s agriculture workforce requires leadership that is receptive to new ideas and diverse viewpoints,” said Murray. “Today’s leaders continue to think strategically to solve problems, but they also need to be open to learning from the broader perspectives of others.”

CAHRC’s Labour Market Information on Recruitment and Retention Report, published in June 2009, revealed that primary agricultural producers across the Country will require an additional 50,000 non-seasonal and 38,000 seasonal workers by the year 2013 and highlights the urgent challenges faced by one of Canada’s most important industries.

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