Labour and Skills Training
Skilled labour is critical to any farm operation. Trained employees increase farm productivity and efficiency. Additionally, with sufficient labour, farms are able to add value to their products which creates an opportunity to increase revenues and grow markets.
The Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council (CAHRC) conducted a study across Canadian farms and the agriculture industry to identify the gaps and associated costs. The report analyzed the needs, barriers and opportunities for each of the provinces. The Nova Scotia report discovered in 2014, 9,200 people were employed in agriculture and 15% of those were made up of foreign workforce. With that, there were 500 jobs left unfilled which lead to $15 million in lost sales due to labour shortages. The report projected that in 2025 there will be 11,300 workers required in the agriculture industry. Between 2014 and 2025, CAHRC anticipated 29% of the workforce will be lost to retirement, creating a labour gap of 3500 people.
Through the NSFA Labour and Skills Committee, action has been taken to educate the agriculture community in areas such as finances, computer use and more through the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education’s Workplace Education and Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive (WIPSI) programs. While these courses have proven to be extremely valuable and well received by industry, there are other skills that must be worked on in a different fashion than the Workplace Education model. A tool that PEI uses to address the training and skill deficit is through a Farm Technician Apprenticeship Program which is also a designated blue seal trade.
It shall be the policy of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to work with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency to implement an agriculture apprenticeship program. NSFA will study the training needs of the agriculture industry and will continue to offer Workplace Education courses and any applicable Workplace Innovation and Productivity Skills Incentive training. NSFA will also continue its relationship with Canadian Agriculture Human Resource Council as a member and participant in projects. NSFA also commits to working with appropriate organizations and governments to ensure successful programs for accessing foreign labour.