REGINA – Protein Industries Canada announced a co-investment into a project to design and deliver a reskilling program for Canada’s agrifood sector to increase employment opportunities among under-represented populations and help solve the labour shortage that the industry faces.
Palette Skills and the University of Saskatchewan (USask), along with Enterprise and Machine Learning Initiative (EMILI) and Economic Development Regina, are partnering to develop the program – focusing on potentially marginalized talent pools and under-represented populations. The program will launch as a pilot in Saskatchewan to train 50 workers who will then be placed in high-demand jobs in the agrifood sector. The core focus of the pilot will be to connect companies within the sector to the diverse, well-trained and skilled talent needed to scale their businesses and accelerate Canada’s economic recovery. If proven successful, there is potential to scale the program across the Prairies.
“The Protein Industries Supercluster’s investment in this important project aims to respond to Canada’s immediate and long-term training needs, particularly for under-represented groups in the labour market. It’s a step toward a proven model of successful training in digital skills. This program is a great opportunity to help workers connect with companies while we train a specialized workforce in Canada’s agri-food sector,” said The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
“Labour shortages continue to be a major issue across the agriculture and agri-food sector. At the same time, there are so many exciting career opportunities just waiting for young and new Canadians to discover. Our Government is committed to addressing labour challenges and connecting more people into these jobs. Thanks to this investment, more people will access digital skills, training in the agri-food sector, and gain access to interesting career opportunities,” said The Hounourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Palette Skills will leverage its successful skilling model, consulting with industry partners to determine the most pressing skills needed in the industry and develop solutions to meet these needs. As a leader in agricultural research, USask’s College of Agriculture and Bioresources will support the program’s design and industry engagement – leveraging its strong relationships to help grow the project’s employer consortium and contribute its knowledge and experience toward the program’s curriculum. Economic Development Regina and EMILI will support the partners’ industry engagement and integration of digital agriculture skills.
“The growth of Canada’s plant-based food and ingredient ecosystem is dependent on having the people with the right skills and talents,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “This program will help engage those not familiar with our sector, including under-represented groups, and provide them with some of the most in-demand skills, so they can become a part of this growing and exciting sector, providing SMEs with the employees they need to scale-up and meet the growing demand for Canada’s plant-based food and ingredients.”
A total of $1.08 million is being invested in the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing $1.01 million and the partners investing the remaining.
“Ensuring that Canada has a secure and sustainable agriculture sector with an adaptable and highly skilled workforce is essential in driving our economic recovery post-pandemic,” Palette Skills Executive Director AJ Tibando said. “The pandemic forced many companies in the region to change their businesses, modify their supply chains and adopt new technologies. These companies have been leaders in adopting advanced technologies and pivoting during the pandemic, and we’re excited about the opportunity to help them access the skilled talent needed to adapt and thrive in this new and challenging environment.”
“The University of Saskatchewan provides a pipeline of research and trained members of the workforce, empowering the agricultural industry to feed the world,” USask Vice-President Research Baljit Singh said. “This partnership is an example of how our institution is focused on innovation and creating new paths of discovery by working with government and industry partners.”
The project marks Protein Industries Canada’s sixth project announcement through its capacity building program, and its 30th project overall. Together with industry, Protein Industries Canada has invested more than $451 million to Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients ecosystem.