This fall, the Harvest & Prosper pilot program provided farmers and agriculture companies with some much-needed staff. The project provided participants with temporary jobs, and some workers gained full-time year-round work.
“This project could lead to people being hired for long-term jobs with good wages and benefits,” says Laurie Loane of the PEI Agriculture Sector Council.
“Also, the experience of working during harvest time sparked such an interest that more than 10 participants signed up for the Farm Technician Apprenticeship program, which starts in January 2018.
“One of the biggest challenges in the agriculture industry is labour shortages, especially during harvest time,” says Laurie. “People who work in the industry struggle with transportation and child care because of the long hours and rural work locations.”
The Harvest & Prosper program addressed some of the human resource issues in agriculture. The program gave newcomers, social assistance recipients, and clients on disability support an opportunity to be exposed to this line of work. Coaches and mentors helped participants overcome barriers to employment.
The following farmers and companies in the industry hired staff through the program: MacKenzie Produce, Cavendish Farms Pooles Corner, Canadian Nectar Products, Lorne Valley Ranch, Smith Farms Ltd. and Atlantic Beef Products.
Laurie says after the word got out about this pilot, more farmers wanted to get involved. “We are working with the other interested farmers to continue this collaboration for the 2018 harvest.”
“Harvest & Prosper participants gained skills through working in the agriculture sector, and this transferable knowledge helps them transition into sustainable employment,” says Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister Sonny Gallant. “The program gave farmers and workers a chance to grow together.”
“The Adventure Group and the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada were also part of this project,” says Laurie. “They helped the workers prepare for the jobs and have a successful experience.
“We hope this program will help those interested in working in agriculture to gain full-time, year-round or seasonal jobs.
“We also encourage them to access other types of funding to continue their education in this field or connect to other types of jobs that will lead to full-time work in agriculture.”
“If someone is ready to get back into the workforce, we want to provide support to help remove barriers such as lack of transportation, child care, or even proper footwear,” says Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy. “I am very pleased that social assistance and disability support clients participating in this program were able to earn up to $3,000 without affecting their social assistance benefits.”
“There are great jobs available in farming, with the sector employing over 3,800 people in peak periods,” says Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac.
For more information, call PEI Agriculture Sector Council at 902-892-1091. Visit www.peiagsc.ca.
Harvest and Prosper is supported by the provincial government departments of Workforce and Advanced Learning, Family and Human Services, and Agriculture and Fisheries. They are partnering with the Agriculture Sector Council, the Adventure Group and the PEI Association for Newcomers. Provincial investments are supported by the Canada-PEI Labour Market Agreements.