Ottawa, June 14, 2023—Canada’s agri-food sector faces a critical labour shortage driven by changing skills needs, demographic challenges, and negative perceptions of agriculture that are driving talent away.

Among the findings of ICTC’s latest report, Canadian Agri-Food Sustainability: Skilled Talent Needed to Meet Food Demand and Reduce Environmental Impacts, is that agri-food offers many meaningful and rewarding career paths. The report discusses the impact of sustainability initiatives on agri-food labour market needs and how advances in agri-food science, technology, and data are converging with sustainability initiatives to create demand for new roles.

The report identifies the in-demand roles and skills for sustainable agri-food, including seven core skill sets needed across the sector and occupation-specific skill sets for the top 20 most in-demand roles.

The demand for agri-food labour is also growing in adjacent industries like agri-food tech, agricultural science, ag consulting, and agri-business, which help producers grow food more efficiently, supported by technology development and adoption, data-informed decision making, and advances in soil and plant science. The future of the agri-food labour market is characterized by a diversity of roles related to science, research and development, engineering, and environmental services.

This report provides recommendations to help build agriculture’s talent pipeline, help overturn farming stereotypes and the lack of awareness of ag’s multifaceted modern career opportunities and address present and future labour shortages in agriculture.

At the core, these efforts should focus on introducing young students (particularly in urban areas) to agriculture and its diverse roles. Post-secondary institutions also need to work interdepartmentally and with industry to ensure agri-food and other programs are aligned with industry needs.

“Digital talent is vital for the agriculture industry to adapt to the challenges of climate change, population growth, and resource scarcity. Tech innovation in this space will be critical in driving new approaches to meeting the needs of a growing world population.” —Namir Anani, ICTC President and CEO

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) is a not-for-profit, national centre of expertise for strengthening Canada’s digital advantage in a global economy. Through trusted research, practical policy advice, and creative capacity-building programs, ICTC fosters globally competitive Canadian industries enabled by innovative and diverse digital talent. In partnership with an expansive network of industry leaders, academic partners, and policymakers from across Canada, ICTC has empowered a robust and inclusive digital economy for over 30 years.   

To arrange an interview on this study or other media inquiries, please get in touch with Paul Stastny by return email or at @email or 403.351.0138 Ext. 823.

This study was partly funded by the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program.

A copy of the study can be accessed here.

A French-language press release of this report is here.