The federal government will fund 2,000 jobs in the ag sector
By Diego Flammini
The federal government is investing in programming to help employ young people in agriculture.
Marie-Claude Bibeau announced an investment of up to $21.4 million into the Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP), which will help fund 2,000 jobs for youth in the industry.
“Our government knows young people are the future of our sector,” Bibeau said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. “Looking beyond the pandemic it is so important that youth take their place as engaged leaders in agriculture.”
Under YESP, employers who hire young people between the ages of 15 and 30 to work in agriculture can receive support for up to 50 per cent of the cost to hire someone, up to $14,000. That percentage increases to 80 per cent if an employer hires an Indigenous applicant or youth facing barriers.
If a young employee must relocate for the position, YESP will cover 100 per cent of relocation costs up to $5,000.
Attracting youth to work in agriculture is important.
With the average age of a Canadian farmer close to 60, steps are needed to bring young people into the sector to farm or work on farms.
“I can tell you that there is a great crop of young farmers all across Canada who are innovative, motivated and ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow,” said Justin Williams, an Ontario dairy farmer and chair of the Canadian Young Farmers’ Forum. “Programs like this will hopefully increase the numbers of young people motivated to become the next generation of Canadian agriculture.”
One of the sector’s challenges is attracting people who aren’t from a farming background.
Putting out messaging that a farm background isn’t necessary to work in ag is an important part of the puzzle.
“I know something we’ve tried to do as a farm is get into schools,” said Ryan Kasko, general manager of Kasko Cattle in Coaldale, Alta. “Some of our most successful employees that we’ve had working for us have come from out of the blue.”
Kasko shared a story about the current farm manager and how he became a critical part of the operation.
“The first time he walked on our farm he had a big mohawk, tattoos, is 6’6 and was getting a math degree,” Kasko said. “He’s worked for us for a number of years while in university and rather than becoming an actuary he applied to be the manager of our farming operation.”
Interested employers can apply for YESP funding online.