It’s no secret that workers are in short supply in horticulture. Despite having posted strong growth in recent years, Canadian agriculture often struggles to match people with positions.
Why is it so hard to hire good folks? Start with the fact that the agriculture industry can be highly seasonal in its need for workers. Add to it that most agriculture jobs are in rural areas, while most Canadians live in cities.
Looking to new sources to meet hiring needs
The great opportunities and good wages need to be promoted.
Recruiting for agriculture today requires a different way of thinking. Some Canadian producers will need to start targeting workers who are only interested in working part of the year or partnering with employers who have offsetting seasonal patterns. The great opportunities and good wages to be found in agriculture need to be promoted.
Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council (CAHRC) advises that immigrants, young Canadians, women and Indigenous people offer a viable solution to this challenge and bring fresh perspectives and new experiences to the workforce. This is particularly relevant when kids who have grown up on the farm choose a career path that doesn’t include working on the farm. Recruiting people who don’t have farming experience can be an asset, and less limiting.
Creative solutions for seasonal worker shortages
Paul Doef, owner of Doef’s Greenhouses near Lacombe, Alta., had a different challenge when it came to finding workers for his 11-acre greenhouse operation. The highly seasonal nature of the commercial greenhouse business meant he was often re-hiring or re-training new team members after a winter break.
Doef tackled it as a production opportunity rather than a people problem. He changed his business infrastructure to include high-tech lights so the greenhouse could create consistent, year-round production. Doef’s seasonal labour headaches disappeared.
“Now we can use the same crew all year,” he says. “It’s a huge advantage to us to be able to offer our employees year-round employment.”