Successful workforce planning – insights from Food in Canada columnist Jennefer Griffith
Assessing labour market data is an essential ingredient to workforce planning for the Canadian food and beverage manufacturing industry. At Food Processing Skills Canada, we have relied on this type of data to develop resources for manufacturers, and governments have used the information to inform industry policies and programs. We have also learned that educators — whether that be colleges, universities or private trainers — value information on the labour market and skills gaps when building new curriculum.
Last year, we began journal paper research and also interviews with businesses across Canada to develop a series of 2020 labour market reports that would dovetail with previous work we conducted for the meat and seafood sectors. We have already released Working Together: A Study of Generational Perspectives in Canada’s Labour Force, and last month made public a national report summarizing interviews with businesses in all 10 sectors across Canada.
The 2020 Labour Market Information Survey — Canadian Food & Beverage Manufacturing Industry Report profiles Canadian firms and provides industry and stakeholders with important insights into the issues of recruitment and retention, revenue outlook and business investments such as automation or digitization. The analysis also takes a hard look at specific company human resources including turnover rates, breakdown of paid positions and employee benefits such as training. It is the kind of report that gives readers a perspective from that of a Canadian business, and provides an understanding of workforce and growth challenges for the industry.
- 61 per cent of respondents identified the availability of labour as a challenge.
- Employment vacancies per company average 5.84 representing 15 per cent of the industry overall or just over 40,000 jobs across Canada.
- 24 per cent of the workforce are under 30.
- 79 per cent of respondents said they were not considering manufacturing cannabis-infused products, while 16 per cent were considering it, and four per cent had moved into that market.
- 24 per cent of respondents indicated a high level of tech integration in their facilities, while 42 per cent said they had low levels of integration.
- 32 per cent of employers said the educational programming designed to produce graduates for their sector is non-existent.
As part of the interview survey, companies also reported that about a 33 per cent of positions were filled by women and nine per cent filled by recent immigrants. Only one-quarter of employees are under the age of 30 and about half of the firms said applicants did not have the proper training or that wage expectations are too high. When we explored this issue further, we learned that the majority of respondents also noted that educational programming designed to produce graduates for their sector was either inadequate or non-existent.
Next for Food Processing Skills Canada is the release of labour market reports for the dairy sector, bakery sector and “other sector” which includes snack food, coffee, tea, flavouring, seasoning and dressings. I am also looking forward to our compensation report which will shed light on salary and benefits, and also perceptions of industry remuneration.
It takes time to sift through all the labour market information available, but it is absolutely necessary if we are going to accurately prepare for the future workforce. I think we all agree that this industry offers good jobs and opportunities for career advancement, but if we are going to succeed in building a better workforce, change is required. Labour market information assists in guiding that change.
For more information on Food Processing Skills Canada’s labour market analysis and upcoming reports contact Kevin Elder, labour market information program manager or visit www.fpsc-ctac.ca to download currently-available reports.
Jennefer Griffith is the executive director at Food Processing Skills Canada.
22 JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2021