Bakers Journal

Study says food and beverage manufacturers wait over a year to fill positions

August 24, 2022
By Bakers Journal

Ontario – A new study conducted by Food and Beverage Ontario found 82 per cent of Ontario’s food and beverage processors need or are actively seeking to employ a skilled trades professional in such critical roles as automation and quality control technicians.

The study was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The province’s food and beverage processing industry is seeking to increase education, employment opportunities, and access to qualified foreign workers as skilled trade shortages continue to take their toll on production capacity, the study suggests.

The industry is Ontario’s largest manufacturing sector by employment. It contributed $13.9 billion to Ontario’s GDP in 2020 and is the largest purchaser of Ontario farm products. However, the industry is projecting a shortfall of 25,000 employees by 2025.

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The report indicates it takes an average of seven months to hire for the role, while a quarter of food and beverage processors note they have been waiting over a year to fill some skilled trades roles.

“The demand due to broad labour shortages has created both a loss in industry capacity and a cycle that draws existing resources to accommodate the shortage and labour turn over,” said Doug Alexander, vice-president of sustainability and government relations at Belmont Food Group, in a news release. “The more skilled trades jobs we need to fill, and the longer it takes to fill them, the more pressure is placed on current employees to keep operations running. That can lead to burnout and food production constraints, while literally turning down orders.”

Due to the high demand of skilled trades people across the country, industries are competing for talent in a limited labour pool.

“The food and beverage processing industry is a highly innovative sector with tremendous career opportunities,” said Food and Beverage Ontario’s CEO, Christopher Conway. “Increasing awareness and education about the benefits of skilled trades and careers in the food and beverage industry—especially at the secondary and post-secondary level—is essential to addressing the sector’s long term labour needs.”

The report also identifies barriers to employment and potential solutions to address the short-term challenges causing current production and staffing issues. Employers say short-term solutions should include increasing the industry’s access to qualified foreign workers for businesses that need to fill immediate skilled trade vacancies. The sector also encourages further investment in initiatives to leverage existing job opportunities and supercharge training and employment programs connecting employers with job seekers.


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