New partnership to increase skills and talent in Canada’s agrifood sector

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) is helping to develop a new, $1.08-million specialized training program targeted at preparing workers for the jobs agri-food sector employers are eager to fill.

Together with the national non-profit organization Palette Skills, Winnipeg-based non-profit Enterprise and Machine Learning Initiative (EMILI), and Economic Development Regina, USask will develop a program focused on increasing employment opportunities among under-represented populations such as the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) community, and new Canadians to help solve the labour shortage the agri-food sector faces.

Protein Industries Canada, one of Canada’s five non-profit innovation superclusters, is investing $1.01 million with the partner organizations investing the remaining amount. The funding will pay for the design and launch of a pilot program in Saskatchewan to train 50 workers who will then be placed in the highly-in-demand jobs.

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 up their businesses and accelerate Canada’s economic recovery. If proven successful, there is potential to expand the program across the Prairies.

Palette Skills will leverage its successful “skilling” model, consulting with industry partners to determine the most pressing skills needed in the industry and developing solutions to meet those needs.

As a leader in agricultural research, the USask 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 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.

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