One in four food and beverage manufacturers wait over a year to hire: report
Monica FergusonFood Industry Food & Beverage automation technicians food and beverage labour shortages manufacturing sector Ontario's GDP Ontario farm products processing industry skilled trades professional
Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry is seeking to increase education, employment opportunities, and access to qualified foreign workers as skilled trade shortages continue according to a new study conducted by Food and Beverage Ontario and funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The food and beverage processing 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.
The study found that 82 per cent of Ontario’s food and beverage processors need, or are actively seeking to employ a skilled trades professional. These positions include roles such as automation technicians, millwrights, electricians, and quality control technicians.
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 sustainability and government relations, Belmont Food Group. “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 report 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.