Ontario Agriculture Week – Spotlight on Grand Erie

Ontario Agriculture Week – Spotlight on Grand Erie

It’s Ontario Agriculture Week from October 3rd to the 9th and there is plenty to celebrate about this important sector! The week is a time to showcase all the amazing things happening in the industry and our connection to where our food comes from – so let’s raise a fork to the food we love and the people who produce it! 

The agriculture and agri-food sector is a major contributor to the Canadian economy comprised of primary agriculture (farmers) and food and beverage processing, and also includes foodservice providers, as well as food retailers and wholesalers who are the link between food production and consumers. 

In 2021, the whole agriculture and agri-food system employed 2.1 million people, provided 1 in 9 jobs in Canada, and generated $134.9 billion (around 6.8%) of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). Of that, primary agriculture carried out by farmers and which is defined as work performed within the boundaries of a farm, nursery or greenhouse, accounted for 241,500 jobs in Canada and $31.9 billion in GDP across 189,874 farms. 

Agriculture in the Grand Erie region…

There are 3564 agri-food businesses in Grand Erie region. Agriculture, combined with forestry, fishing and hunting, is the 2nd biggest industry in the Grand Erie region.

Grand Erie top 3 Agriculture subsectors are as follows:

  1. Crop production – 1844 businesses
  2. Animal production and aquaculture – 599 businesses
  3. Food service and drinking places – 502 businesses

The 2021 Census showed there were 3735 farm operators (down from 4,030 in 2016) in the Grand Erie region operating 2620 farms (down from 2860 in 2016). Around 40% of farms are under 70 acres, 47% are between 70 and 399 acres, 8% are between 400 and 759 acres and 6% are over 760 acres. Based on 894 farms that reported on number of employees, a total of 10,727 individuals were employed including temporary foreign workers.

Largely comprised of rural communities, the Grand Erie region has a diverse agricultural industry and its farms make up 5.42% of all farms across Ontario. Primary agriculture which relates directly to farming, includes crops, livestock, greenhouses and nurseries, as well as, farmer’s markets, farm equipment repair shops, wine and cider production, grain drying operations and livestock auctions is abundant in the Grand Erie region.

While the number of smaller farms shrunk between 2016 and 202, Grand Erie gained 7 large farms (2240 acres and higher) indicating that operations are merging in response to the shrinking number of farm operators.

Farms by industry group in Grand Erie:

  • Oilseed and grain – 1175 farms
  • Beef and cattle ranching and farming – 189 farms
  • Vegetable and melon farming – 188 farms
  • Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture – 143 farms
  • Poultry and egg production – 113 farms
  • Dairy cattle and milk production – 105 farms

In 2021, Grand Erie grew over 6 million kgs of fruit, 34 million kgs of vegetables, 15 kgs of grain, and 30 million kgs of livestock products. Top fruits include apples, strawberries and pears. Top vegetables are potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onion and lettuce. Chicken, beef, eggs and dairy are top livestock products. 

County of Brant: 77% of lands in the County of Brant are considered to be prime agricultural lands. Additionally, the County of Brant is home to various businesses with on-farm diversified uses such as bakeries, seasonal tourism events related to the agricultural area (petting zoo, corn maze, ziplining, wine tasting etc.), and educational & commercial activities directly related to local farming.

Brantford: Aside from deep roots in agricultural equipment manufacturing, local farm fresh stores are popular in Brantford and operations such as Brantwood Farms have adapted to receive customers year round at their farm shops and special events.

Haldimand County: Agriculture has a long history in Haldimand County. Family farms have been a staple to the local economy for generations, specializing in crop production, animal production and aquaculture. Haldimand County invites people to visit their farmers markets to learn how important agriculture is to the local economy and appreciate networks of local food producers.

Norfolk County: Norfolk County promotes itself as Ontario’s Garden and according to the 2016 census, there were 1,860 farm operators working 1,307 farms in Norfolk County, with total land in crops of 196,403 acres. Norfolk County farmers are Canada’s leading growers of asparagus, cabbage, tart cherries, ginseng, peppers, pumpkins, rye, squash and zucchini, strawberries, and other vegetables. Livestock makes up an important part of Norfolk County agriculture which include pigs, cattle and calves, goats, sheep and lambs and honeybee colonies. Employing the highest number of employees on its farms (7,619), Norfolk County farmers received more than $519 million in total gross farm revenue in the year prior to the 2016 census.

Six Nations of the Grand River: Corn, beans and squash are called “The Three Sisters” in Indigenous farming and were traditionally inter-planted because they thrive together – as well as providing balanced nutrition. To create community awareness surrounding Indigenous agriculture, Six Nations recently launched their “Revitalizing Our Sustenance Project” in May of 2020 during the beginning summer months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agri-tourism has been a growing industry across the Grand Erie region – from farm crawls to guided tours of micro-breweries, farmers markets and farm to table experiences, companies such as Ride the Bine, Red Apple Tours provide visitors and locals with tailored experiences at local agri-businesses.

Future outlook of Agriculture in Grand Erie…

According to StatCan’s Census of Agriculture data – of the 4, 030 farm operators in Grand Erie, about 55 % are 55 years or older, compared to 49% in 2011. 1,435 are between the age of 35-54 and only 375 were under the age of 35. With many agricultural workers opting to retire early, shortages of workers, including migrant workers, are creating a high demand for skilled equipment operators to support the local industry and it is increasingly important to consider how and by whom these newly vacant positions will be filled.

With the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie as one of its several partners, Conestoga College recently developed a 16 week Agricultural Equipment Operator Program. Completion of the program positions graduates to successfully enter a wide variety of agricultural operations.

Other local agricultural training institutions include the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) of the University of Guelph. At its Ridgetown Campus, obtaining an Associate Diploma in Agriculture provides individuals with the training to manage a farm, work for a global agribusiness, finance agricultural innovation, advance new crop and livestock genetics, or work in advancing agriculture technology.

Fanshawe College offers an Agri-Business Management Program at its Simcoe campus, which equips graduates with understanding business fundamentals and industry specific training in agricultural production. Students gain knowledge in how to manage each step of the supply chain from farm to table and everything in between, with new technological advances and sustainable practices.

 

 

Free program will train people to be welders

Free program will train people to be welders

Free welding training is being offered to give 150 people a head start to work as welders, helping meet the needs of local companies hungry for workers.

The Workforce Planning Board will provide the program through its Skills2Advance Welding training arm, in partnership with the CWB Welding Foundation. Training will be delivered by four area colleges.

The two-week-long classes start in June and will be offered regularly over the next year. Participants will be recruited from Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk counties. Residents of Hamilton, Cambridge, Kitchener-Waterloo and Oxford County can also sign up.

Two-thirds of participants for the free welding training are expected to be women, a group that is underrepresented in the skilled trades. Only 10 per cent of welders in Grand Erie are female. There will also be opportunities for people who have a disability, youth, and other groups that are underrepresented in the trades.

Tremendous opportunity

“This is a tremendous opportunity for people to get started in the skilled trades with this high-demand occupation and start building their career,” said Danette Dalton, the planning board’s executive director. “We’re excited to work with the CWB Welding Foundation, area post-secondary schools and other community partners to give people the skills they need to succeed.”

People can find more information about the program by visiting www.skills2advance.com/welding

The CWB Welding Foundation has for years operated training programs for welders across Canada. Its Women of Steel program has trained hundreds of women since 2019, while its Mind Over Metal program has been in operation since 2014

The Women of Steel and Mind Over Metal curriculum will be delivered by instructors from Six Nations Polytechnic, Conestoga College, and Fanshawe College – Simcoe campus, using their welding shops. Mohawk College will provide training at its mobile classroom, which houses welding simulators in a truck trailer.

Minister of Labour

The one-year project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“With many tradespeople set to retire over the next decade, we need to do all we can to encourage people to consider careers in welding,” said Minister Monte McNaughton.

“Our government is proud to support this program, which will give future tradespeople, including women and people with disabilities, a head start in planning their careers, and help local employers find the workers they need to grow their business.”

It will include 30 hours of hands-on training, with the opportunity to obtain a CWB welding certification. Another 30 hours will focus on training in first aid, CPR, forklift and working at heights, and soft skills, such as problem-solving and workplace communications.

Free welding toolkit

Program participants will receive a free welding toolkit, which includes a welding helmet, and will be eligible to receive additional support to help cover other expenses, such as work boots.

When they graduate, participants will be assisted by local employment service agencies who will work with local businesses to offer on-the-job placements, which could lead to permanent positions.

“The goal is to find employment for participants, and we expect the program to be warmly received by employers,” Dalton said. “Welders are in demand, and that demand is expected to continue. We need to ensure there are new, eager workers entering the field.”

To learn more about job opportunities in welding, visit this page on Grand Erie Jobs: Welding careers

Grand Erie’s Agricultural Industry

Grand Erie’s Agricultural Industry

Canada’s Agriculture Day is on February 22nd and there is plenty to celebrate about this important sector so let’s raise a fork to the food we love and the people who produce it! Canada’s Agriculture Day is a time to showcase all the amazing things happening in the industry and us all see the connection to where our food comes from.

The agriculture and agri-food sector is a major contributor to the Canadian economy comprised of primary agriculture (farmers) and food and beverage processing, and also includes foodservice providers, as well as food retailers and wholesalers who are the link between food production and consumers. The agri-food sector also influences many other sectors across the food supply-chain.

In 2020, the whole agriculture and agri-food system in Canada provided 1 in 9 jobs in Canada and generated $139.3 billion (around 7.4%) of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). Of that, primary agriculture carried out by farmers and which is defined as work performed within the boundaries of a farm, nursery or greenhouse, accounted for 269,300 jobs in Canada and $39.8 billion in GDP.

 Occupations in primary agriculture are vast and range from general farm workers, harvesting labourers and heavy equipment mechanics to various agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers who provide assistance and advice to farmers on all aspects of farm management, cultivation, fertilization, harvesting, soil erosion and composition, disease prevention, nutrition, crop rotation and marketing.

More information on occupations in agriculture can be found through Occupation Finder under the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie – Grand Erie Jobs

Agriculture in the Grand Erie region…

Based on June 2021 local business count data, agriculture, combined with forestry, fishing and hunting, is the 3rd top industry in the Grand Erie region.

Grand Erie top 3 Agriculture subsectors are as follows:

  1. Crop production
  2. Animal production and aquaculture
  3. Support activities for agriculture and forestry

The 2016 Census showed there were 4, 030 farm operators in the Grand Erie region operating 2860 farms. Around 43% of farms are under 70 acres, 44% are between 70 and 399 acres, 10% are between 400 and 759 acres and 3% are over 760 acres. Based on 894 farms that reported on number of employees, a total of 10,727 individuals were employed including temporary foreign workers.

Largely comprised of rural communities, the Grand Erie region has a diverse agricultural industry. Primary agriculture which relates directly to farming, includes crops, livestock, greenhouses and nurseries, as well as, farmer’s markets, farm equipment repair shops, wine and cider production, grain drying operations, & livestock auctions and is abundant in the Grand Erie region

County of Brant: 77% of lands in the County of Brant are considered to be prime agricultural lands. Additionally, the County of Brant is home to various businesses with on-farm diversified uses such as bakeries, seasonal tourism events related to the agricultural area (petting zoo, corn maze, ziplining, wine tasting etc.), and educational & commercial activities directly related to local farming.

Brantford: Aside from deep roots in agricultural equipment manufacturing, local farm fresh stores are popular in Brantford and operations such as Brantwood Farms have adapted to receive customers year round at their farm shops and special events.

Haldimand County: Agriculture has a long history in Haldimand County. Family farms have been a staple to the local economy for generations, specializing in crop production, animal production and aquaculture. Haldimand County invites people to visit their farmers markets to learn how important agriculture is to the local economy and appreciate networks of local food producers.

Norfolk County: Norfolk County promotes itself as Ontario’s Garden and according to the 2016 census, there were 1,860 farm operators working 1,307 farms in Norfolk County, with total land in crops of 196,403 acres.

Norfolk County farmers are Canada’s leading growers of asparagus, cabbage, tart cherries, ginseng, peppers, pumpkins, rye, squash and zucchini, strawberries, and other vegetables. Livestock makes up an important part of Norfolk County agriculture which include pigs, cattle and calves, goats, sheep and lambs and honeybee colonies. Employing the highest number of employees on its farms (7,619), Norfolk County farmers received more than $519 million in total gross farm revenue in the year prior to the 2016 census.

Delivered in partnership with Venture Norfolk, and with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Norfolk County runs programs to support its vast agricultural industry. This includes the Food Venture Program – a component of the BRINC, a new Business Accelerator for Norfolk-based Entrepreneurs –  provide entrepreneurs who may be small or medium-sized farmers and food product owners, the knowledge, skills and networking opportunities to turn their recipes into retail-ready products

Six Nations of the Grand River: Corn, beans and squash are called “The Three Sisters” in Indigenous farming and were traditionally inter-planted because they thrive together – as well as providing balanced nutrition. To create community awareness surrounding Indigenous agriculture, Six Nations recently launched their “Revitalizing Our Sustenance Project” in May of 2020 during the beginning summer months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Agri-tourism has been a growing industry across the Grand Erie region – from farm crawls to guided tours of micro-breweries, farmers markets and farm to table experiences, companies such as Ride the Bine, Red Apple Tours provide visitors and locals with tailored experiences at local agri-businesses.

Future outlook of Agriculture in Grand Erie…

According to StatCan’s Census of Agriculture data – of the 4, 030 farm operators in Grand Erie, about 55 % are 55 years or older, compared to 49% in 2011. 1,435 are between the age of 35-54 and only 375 were under the age of 35. With many agricultural workers opting to retire early, shortages of workers, including migrant workers, are creating a high demand for skilled equipment operators to support the local industry and it is increasingly important to consider how and by whom these newly vacant positions will be filled.

With the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie as one of its several partners, Conestoga College recently developed a 16 week Agricultural Equipment Operator Program. Completion of the program positions graduates to successfully enter a wide variety of agricultural operations.

Other local agricultural training institutions include the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) of the University of Guelph. At its Ridgetown Campus, obtaining an Associate Diploma in Agriculture provides individuals with the training to manage a farm, work for a global agribusiness, finance agricultural innovation, advance new crop and livestock genetics, or work in advancing agriculture technology.

Fanshawe College offers an Agri-Business Management Program at its Simcoe campus, which equips graduates with understanding business fundamentals and industry specific training in agricultural production. Students gain knowledge in how to manage each step of the supply chain from farm to table and everything in between, with new technological advances and sustainable practices.

 

 

Workforce Series – Interview with Gordon

Workforce Series – Interview with Gordon

In our Workforce Series, where we share stories from local people who work in some of our region’s most important industries, we talk to Gordon Bouchard who recently took part in the Welding Training program through the Ogwehoweh Skills and Trades Training Centre (OSTTC).

OSTTC is a community owned Indigenous training and post-secondary institute that serves The Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and surrounding communities and runs various skills training, professional development and trades programs. It is owned and operated under Grand River Employment Training Inc. and is located in the village of Ohsweken. 

Gordon now works as a welder for Walters Group in Princeton. Walters is a family owned steel construction company that designs, fabricates, and constructs commercial and industrial projects throughout North America. They often recruit for various opportunities on their Careers Page.

In our feature, Gordon talks about the high demand for welders, switching careers to secure his future and career options, his passion for his new role and the satisfaction he gets from feeling he is making a contribution to society through his work.

Watch our interview with Gordon herehttps://youtu.be/ePqp-1cLU4M

 

Some additional highlights from Gordon:

“I knew there was a demand for the skilled trades and welding but I had no idea just how big it was, there are literally jobs everywhere. I had my own business for 20 years that was affected by the pandemic and going into welding was not only to create job security and provide for my family, it was coming full circle. I was considering becoming an auto mechanic when I was young, my father and grandfather were millwrights so I have those roots. It’s come full circle now with going into a second career doing something I enjoy, that mentally stimulates me and that I expect to do until I retire”  

“The OSTTC program was great – during the 8-week program I attained 5 welding certificates and had the qualifications to get my foot in the door after completing the program.

“My work with Walters has allowed me to be part of exciting projects. Additionally, I recently worked on a pavilion that is being donated back to the local community and I look forward to taking my kids to see it when it is installed it the spring”

On advice to young people – be flexible – when you are young and not tied down and you want to get ahead and make as much money as possible, take the different shifts and work your way in…it may be tough for a few years but then you will get to pick and choose more of what fits your life and home situation when you are older”

“My long-term goal is to get into quality control/inspection in another 10 years after getting all the tickets and training to get me there – and by then expertise in the field under my belt”

Thank you to Gordon for sharing his story with us! Looking to explore a career or find a job? Check out Grand Erie Jobs – the biggest career and job site in our region!

 

Big opportunities to work in trades careers

Big opportunities to work in trades careers

There are big opportunities for careers in the trades, with strong demand, lots of jobs and good wages.

There are so many opportunities that even people who’ve never considered the trades should take a look.

Skilled trades workers build and maintain infrastructures like our homes, schools, hospitals, roads, farms and parks. They keep industries running and perform many services we rely on every day. Their work requires a great amount of skill and skilled tradespeople often use advanced, modern technology.

Strong demand

There is strong demand right now from local employers for people to work in skilled trades jobs. And that demand is expected to remain strong for years to come, especially as people in their 50s and 60s who are currently working in the trades retire.

Strong stability

Stability goes hand in hand with demand. Since the demand is expected to continue for many years, people working in the trades should see good job security and stable careers

Strong wages

Wages for the trades are strong and it’s possible to make above average.

Here are some examples of skilled trades positions in high demand in the Grand Erie region that includes Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and the counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.

Construction Electrician: Install, troubleshoot and repair electrical wiring and equipment, such as wiring a new home or building. These electricians usually work for contractors or may be self employed. Median annual salary: $65,000.

Industrial Electrician: Install, troubleshoot and maintain electrical equipment in factories. These electricians may work directly for the company or may work for a contractor. Median annual salary: $69,000.

Millwright: Maintain and repair industrial machinery and equipment, such as machines used by manufacturers to make products. Some millwrights work for contractors who are called into factories, while others may work directly for the manufacturer. Median annual salary: $67,000.

Plumber: Install and repair plumbing in a wide variety of settings, including homes, buildings and factories. Some work for contactors or are self employed. Median annual salary: $64,000.

Welder: Weld metals for a wide variety of purposes, such as structural steel used in buildings or joining parts together. Welders work in a variety of settings, from large manufacturers to small welding shops. Welding is sometimes a stepping stone to other skilled trades. Median annual salary: $45,000.

Machinists: Set up and operate machine tools to make products out of metal, plastic or other material. They are employed in manufacturing, such as automotive parts making, plastics products, and more. Median annual salary: $53,000.

Auto service technician: Maintain and repair cars, trucks and buses. Technicians may work for a car dealership or a garage, or may own their own business. Some people specialize in transport trucks or buses. Median annual salary: $51,000.

NEGATIVE STIGMA

Despite the positives, many businesses are having trouble attracting people to work in the trades.

One major reason is the negative stigma about the trades. Many young people are not exposed to the trades and never find out about the opportunities.

Other youth are discouraged from pursuing their interests, either by parents or teachers, because the skilled trades are viewed incorrectly as repetitive, dirty, dangerous, low-paying career options. Students in high school may only be encouraged to look at the trades if they struggle with academics or deemed unsuitable for college or university.

Main factors contributing to labour shortages in the skilled trades include:

  • Stigma around the trades
  • Students’ limited exposure to the trades
  • Impact of retirements
  • The soft skills gap (not prepared for work, poor attitudes regarding work)
  • Inadequate training (Mentors not prepared/skilled to train apprentices/incompatibility with apprentice)

JOB SATISFACTION

People who work in the skilled trades have high job and career satisfaction.

According to research from Job Talks, a Canadian website that promotes the trades:

  • 73 per cent of skilled trades workers feel that they put in an honest days’ work most days, as compared to 66 per cent for the rest of Canadian workers;
  • 68 per cent of skilled trades workers said that their work gives them a sense of success and achievement, as compared to 49 per cent of the rest of Canadian workers;
  • 60 per cent said that they often have fun while they are working versus 43 per cent in other professions;

PATHWAYS INTO THE TRADES

There are a number of routes people can take to get the training and education needed to get into the trades.

Secondary School: Students in high school may have an opportunity to take a Specialized High School Major in a trade or may go on a co-op placement. Students may also be able to take pre-apprenticeship training while in high school through an Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) program.

Community college: Local colleges such as Conestoga College, Fanshawe College, Mohawk College and Six Nations Polytechnic offer training programs in a wide variety of trades. This includes a number of apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeships: People who are hired by businesses as an apprentice learn both on the job and at school, completing a specific number of in-class hours. This allows people to earn money while they learn and while they advance at a company. Those interested in an apprenticeship can register with ApprenticeshipSearch.com to explore the skilled trades and to find an employer.

RESEARCH TRADES CAREERS

There are many online resources for anyone who wants more information about working in the trades in Ontario and Canada.

To get an idea of how many jobs there are in any occupation in the trades, search Grand Erie Jobs, our region’s largest job board. The job board can also be used to identify which local businesses hire for the trades.

Watch this short video from the Government of Ontario about working in the trades.

The organizations Skills Ontario and Careers in Trades promote the trades and have lots of information.

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