The agriculture industry has been a vital part of the Canadian economy since the country’s beginning. With the sector contributing over $143 billion to Canada’s annual GDP, it employs more Canadians than any other manufacturing industry.(1)
Gross domestic product is the amount of money a county makes every year for its finished goods and services.(2)
However, despite the many opportunities, labour shortages are a real issue. In 2017, there were 2,800 open jobs in the Alberta agriculture industry, costing the province $821 million. By 2029, this number is expected to increase to 19,600.(3) This labour shortage is a result of a few factors(4)—the first being an aging workforce. By 2029, 42 per cent of workers will be lost to retirement. Secondly, factors like manual labour, seasonal work, and rural living also affect recruitment to production jobs, with 50 per cent of farmers remarking that rural locations were a barrier. Lastly, finding workers with enough experience is a factor that 43 per cent of Albertan producers face.
As a result of the labour shortage, the agriculture industry has begun to adapt. Communication jobs are arising to spread awareness and show the advantages of a career that offers rural living and job security. Machines are also beginning to take over more labour-intensive jobs, providing tech-based positions instead. This growing industry has led universities to provide more diverse agriculture programing, setting their graduates up for success in multiple areas of study, including business, education, plant and animal science, technology, and environmental science.(5) Currently, Lakeland College finds that 100 per cent of their graduates are recommended by employers and 92 per cent are happy in their jobs.(6)
Farming is a dynamic, active, and fulfilling career choice within the industry. People will always need food, and as the world population increases to 9.8 billion in 2050,(7) the importance of creating a sustainable food system becomes vital to mankind’s future. But if farming isn’t for you, there are many diverse career paths in agriculture for the next generation of workers that can help achieve the goals of food security and sustainability.(8)
Did you know?
1 in 8 jobs in Canada are provided by the agriculture and agri-food industry.(9)
Agribusiness has a hand in the production, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of food and other agricultural products. This could be any number of jobs with an agriculture focus, including accountants, lawyers, trade policy analysts, equipment salesmen, and marketers. Assistance in these areas ensures the business behind food runs smoothly and is profitable for all parties in the food supply chain from farm to fork. If you enjoy financial planning, building relationships, organizing, and managing tasks, this might be the career field for you!
Ag Communications educate the world on agricultural topics such as farm production methods, equipment training, economics, and awareness of ethical challenges around food security and sustainability. Jobs in this sector include journalists, teachers, and content creators. Those with skills in communication, creativity, writing, research, and public speaking will fit in well in this field.
PLANT AND ANIMAL SCIENCE
Plant and animal science is the study and care of plants and animals. This can be for the purpose of improving the appearance, taste, or nutritional value of food; the sustainability of the industry; the health of plants and animals; or the yields and productivity of a crop or herd. Careers in this field include microbiologists, plant geneticists, nutritionists, food safety inspectors, and veterinarians. These jobs can have you behind a microscope, out in the field, or in a production or manufacturing facility. Plant science especially, is one of the fastest growing career paths.5 If you are detail oriented, methodical, and have strong skills in science, technology, and mathematics, this might be the right fit for you!
Agricultural technology is an exciting and innovative field. From the production of tractors, to drones, satellite systems, robotics, and artificial intelligence, this career path has come a long way, and the opportunities are vast. Technology is an important part of making the agriculture industry more efficient, producing more food with fewer environmental resources, all the while saving time and money. Data analysis, entry, and transmission are also an essential part of online operations. With smart devices connected through the internet, information is more available than ever, creating a data-driven and globalized economy with many diverse job opportunities.(10) Careers in this field include engineers, drone operators, land surveyors, mechanics, software developers, web designers, blockchain developers, data entry persons, and computer programmers. If you have mechanical skills, knowledge of computer software and hardware, love mathematics, or enjoy organizational and management tasks, this might be the career for you!
Agriculture is an important part of feeding a growing world population, but like every industry it has its environmental impacts. Food waste, soil degradation, and land and water usage are all challenges facing the industry. As a result, agriculture needs bright minds to help solve these key environmental issues. Careers in this sector include conservation scientists, ecologists, restoration technicians, environmental policy advisors, and agronomists. If you’re outdoorsy, physically active, and great at science, this might be the field for you! A strong passion for climate change, conservation, and renewable energy is also a plus.
For more information on careers in agriculture explore our Nourishing Minds publications here.
1 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada—Departmental Plan, 2020–21
2 Investopedia—Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 2020
3 Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council—AgriLMI: Alberta
4 Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council—How Labour Challenges Will Shape the Future of Agriculture in Alberta: Agriculture Forecast to 2029, 2019
5 GrowNextGen—Explore Careers
6 University of Guelph—Planning for Tomorrow 2.0 Report
7 United Nations—News, 2017
8 GrowNextGen—GrowNextGen Agriculture Career Survey
9 Government of Canada—Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Sector 2018