BRANDON – Canada’s food processing sector is one of the country’s largest and most important manufacturing industries – contributing more than $103.4 billion in shipping product each year, and two per cent in national GDP, according to Food Processing Skills Canada. As Canada’s plant-based food and ingredient sector grows, so does the demand for skilled labour. Protein Industries Canada’s latest co-investment will help ensure this fast-growing sector has the talent needed to support its future growth.
Assiniboine Community College and Roquette are collaborating to develop and deliver Chemical Engineering Technology Diploma and Food Science Diploma programs to domestic and international prospective students in Canada. These are the first programs of their kind in Manitoba, with the Food Science Diploma being the first in the Prairies. The goal of these new programs is to ensure an adequate workforce for the evolving plant-protein processing and food and beverage manufacturing sectors.
“With support from Protein Industries Canada, Assiniboine Community College and Roquette Canada, the Government of Canada is helping to address the labour shortage faced by the plant-based food and ingredients sector. This project will help energize this critical industry by providing training and skills development to address challenges in plant protein processing and other food and beverage manufacturing across Canada,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
“The innovative plant protein industry is experiencing marked growth at the same time as we are facing a significant shortage of skilled labour. This collaboration between industry and an educational institution to create programs that fully meet the needs of the workplace is a win-win solution for both students and agri-food companies,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
To create the curriculum for both programs, the college will work with Roquette, which operates the world’s largest pea protein plant in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, as well as consult other organizations in Canada’s plant-based food and ingredient ecosystem. This engagement will identify the technical and employment skills needed from industry, which will also help students create connections with potential future employers. Providing students the training, skills and talent needed for careers in the food processing sector will expand the ecosystem’s capacity and create more jobs, from which companies of all sizes across the agrifood value chain can benefit.
“As a growing sector that promises to be a driver of Canada’s economy, and an industry that will require an additional 17,000 new employees by 2035, it is critical that we develop programs to help build a skilled workforce to meet the needs of our industry partners,” CEO of Protein Industries Canada Bill Greuel said. “The Chemical Engineering Technology Diploma and Food Science Diploma programs from Assiniboine Community College and Roquette can create a diverse talent source for Canada’s plant protein sector, which will result in more career opportunities for Canadians and growth for Canada’s economy.”
The new three-year diploma programs will reflect the college’s Indigenization Strategy by partnering with Indigenous processors, communities, Elders and Knowledge Keepers. The diploma programs will also be an integral part of the college’s planned expansion of agriculture training that will live in the Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, a collaborative learning space for agriculture-related training and a Manitoba-made response to labour market gaps in the industry.
“The significant investment that industry leaders, like Roquette, have made in the ag sector in recent years brings with it an increased need for skilled, trained talent,” Tim Hore, Dean, School of Agriculture and Environment at Assiniboine Community College said. “The Prairie Innovation Centre will be integral to meeting this need in Manitoba, and training that connects technology and innovation to agriculture is key to moving the industry forward. Protein Industries Canada and Roquette’s investment into the evolving needs of this important sector will ensure both learners and industry are set for success.”
“Roquette is pleased to partner with Assiniboine Community College to develop these in-demand diploma programs,” Dominique Baumann, Managing Director for Roquette in Canada said. “There’s never been a more exciting time for people to start a career in Canada’s booming plant-based protein sector. Graduates of these programs will be well positioned for employment with any number of food processors and will play an important role in helping to increase Canada’s at-home food production capacity.”
Over the past three years, Protein Industries Canada and industry partners have invested more than $485 million into growing Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredient sector. The results of these investments include improved farming practices, increased sustainability, increased traceability, and the production of new ingredients and food products. Cumulatively, this will increase the choices available to Canadians on grocery store shelves, create jobs and improve the health of our environment. Protein Industries Canada’s goal is to grow Canada’s plant-based food sector to $25 billion a year by 2035 and create 17,000 jobs.