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What will a changing labour market mean for agriculture businesses post-pandemic?

(NC) Faced with a rapidly changing labour force, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated existing trends and opened Canada’s agriculture industry opportunities to gain and train the next generation of farm leaders.

“The current crisis has caused a shakeup like none other in the labour force,” explains Ryan Riese, national director of agriculture at RBC. “Yet with change also comes opportunity. Many of the broader labour market trends emerging from the pandemic will create new opportunities for the agriculture sector to address ongoing challenges. This will be a critical moment for the industry to seize as it seeks to secure a sustainable and skilled workforce for the next decade.”

As the labour market continues to evolve, here are three ways the agriculture industry can stand to benefit:

Attracting youth to the field Though the crisis has disproportionately impacted younger workers, they’re a much-needed resource, as 37 percent of the agricultural workforce is set to retire by 2030, according to RBC’s recent Farmer 4.0 report. This means now is a critical period for the industry to invest in innovation, engagement and bold campaigns to attract and retain more youth.

Capitalizing on greater accessibility As workers adapt to a new future defined by digitalization and automation, the move towards technology promises to open opportunities to non-traditional sources of talent. An industry that leans into automation, remote work, and other forms of digitalization will help make agriculture jobs more accessible by reducing physical demands and creating a more flexible work arrangement.

Leading the drive to upskill Across the labour market, the pandemic has spurred a shift away from low-skill jobs. Throughout the next decade, the agriculture industry can ensure it remains at the forefront of the broader drive towards upskilling through coordinated initiatives, like convening a national skills strategy to plan for future labour needs and focusing on expanding education to encompass the diverse needs of the industry.

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