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Northern Lights College agriculture study to build on recent Northeast regional labour market study

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Northern Lights College, in partnership with local industry, is undertaking an agricultural labour market study. The college, together with its partners, will conduct a study to identify the upcoming labour market gaps in the agriculture and agri-food industry, specifically in Northeast BC.

From this data, Northern Lights College will produce a report that includes strategies to build community capacity and address regional labour market challenges.

The $267,000 study, titled “State of the Agriculture Labour Trends and Needs in Northeast British Columbia,” is a Labour Market Partnership project funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

The agriculture workforce is facing many changes their predecessors did not, and they will need to adapt in order to thrive. Both agriculture and agri-food are at the intersection of a demographic and technological revolution due to changing market conditions, some related to Covid-19.

By 2025, one in four Canadian farmers will be aged 65 or older, and over the next decade 37 per cent of the agricultural workforce will be set to retire. At the same time, new entrants to the sector will need enhanced digital skills, along with knowledge of finance, automation, engineering, and environmental studies.

Conducting a study specific to the needs and trends of agriculture in the Northeast was one recommendation coming out of the Northeast Regional Labour Market Study completed by Northern Lights College earlier this year.

“Northern BC has some of the most vital agricultural land in the province. This study will allow us to help the industry fill gaps in the education these future workers will need. We look forward to the outcome of the study and the potential impact on the region,” said Todd Bondaroff, Associate Vice President, Student Services and Community Relations at Northern Lights College.

The agriculture study will conclude in June 2021 and a report will be produced which will outline a labour market strategy to address current and projected labour market needs in Northeast BC. It will make recommendations to help new talent develop world-class skills and encourage the industry to further embrace a culture of innovation.