Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

COVID-19 Updates News Labour
B.C. launches online job matching site for agriculture sector

The site will be a one-stop shop for those looking to work or hire agriculture jobs.


May 29, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

Topics
The job connector site breaks down available positions by role and skills. Screenshot from B.C. Farm, Fish & Food Job Connector.

The British Columbia government launched a job connector site that will make it easier for British Columbians to learn about jobs and careers in agriculture, while providing farmers, seafood businesses and food processors support for their hiring and planning needs.

According to the provincial government, the new B.C. Farm, Fish and Food Job Connector will showcase current job vacancies throughout the province, including those for crop and seafood harvesters, food processing and farm workers, agrologists, large machinery operators and marketing specialists. The site also has sector-specific information and guidance to support businesses as they adapt their recruitment and human resource management in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many British Columbians are passionate about buying local and are looking towards careers in the agricultural, seafood and food processing sectors. We are making it easier for employers and employees to connect so we can fill vacancies and get more British Columbians working to put fresh and local food on our tables,” said Lana Popham, minister of agriculture, in the announcement’s release. “At the same time, we recognize the workforce challenges brought on by COVID-19 and are helping to address the need to establish a secure agricultural labour force so we can generate economic activity and maintain food security in our communities.”

Advertisment

The connector site will also provide information and context about the opportunities that exist within the different regions of B.C.’s agriculture, seafood and food processing businesses and will highlight the available jobs.

Jobs are available in more than 30 communities in the Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, as well as in the Kootenays, Cariboo and northern B.C. There are close to 600 jobs posted on WorkBC in the agriculture, seafood and food and beverage sectors.

“Farmers in B.C. are in a tough spot because of COVID-19, and our need for labour is at the top of the list,” said Jason Smith, owner of Fraser Berry Farms Ltd. “I appreciate the B.C. government’s efforts in responding to those concerns through this website, which I’m hoping will introduce my farm and family to people looking to join our business and help us share our great tasting, healthy berries with British Columbians this season.”

The site will connect to agriculture, food processing, aquaculture and marine fisheries jobs posted on Work BC, industry sites and the BC Food and Beverage websites. It will also be a centralized source to find information and tools provided by B.C.’s industry groups.

“Local labour has always been a critical part of British Columbia’s food system. Jobs in agriculture provide countless opportunities to grow your skills, expand your experiences and contribute to our sustainable food system,” said Rhonda Driediger, president of the Western Agriculture Labour Initiative (WALI). “We appreciate the work that the province is doing to help farmers and ranchers connect with those looking for employment opportunities during these changing times.”

The B.C. Farm, Fish and Food Job Connector site can be found at: www.bcagjobs.gov.bc.ca

B.C. berry growers ‘urgently need’ workers

Parm Bains, owner of Westberry Farms, said, “B.C. berry growers are facing a serious labour shortage this season due to COVID-19, and this website is a good idea to let people know we are hiring and looking for their help. The berry industry urgently needs seasonal workers interested in harvesting and packing jobs. Many farms also have longer-term positions available in field and crop management and quality control, and this site could connect us to those people.”

“B.C. berry growers are facing a serious labour shortage this season due to COVID-19, and this website is a good idea to let people know we are hiring and looking for their help. The berry industry urgently needs seasonal workers interested in harvesting and packing jobs.”

The province is facing a major labour shortfall and the CBC reported the province is short 6,000 to 8,000 seasonal agricultural workers. Whether or not the job matching site can help with the shortage is still yet to be determined. In an April 15 National Observer article, BC Fruit Growers’ Association president Pinder Dhaliwal expressed that the reality was that most Canadians don’t want to work in orchards, farms and fields, and he didn’t expect that to change even with the unemployment surge.

In New Brunswick, the province lifted a month-long ban on temporary foreign workers. The decision to do so was a relief to many farmers who rely on migrant workers during the growing season. Premier Blaine Higgs expressed disappointment that despite high unemployment there was still a lack of interest from New Brunswickers to apply for jobs in the farming sector.

Several other provinces have also launched job matching initiatives for the agriculture sector, or have existing initiatives: