LinkedIn for farmers aims to remedy labour shortage
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Saturday, April 22, 2017 3:38PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 22, 2017 4:55PM EDT
If you know how to tag and process cattle or drive a “semi to haul silage,” or need to hire someone who does, this new website could be for you.
WorkHorsehub.ca is a farmer-designed online hub aimed at connecting agriculture workers with jobs in the industry. The site’s creator says the platform will help ease Canada’s agribusiness labour shortage by allowing farmers to tap into a global community of skilled workers.
Labour shortages within the agriculture sector in Canada have doubled over the last decade and are projected to double again to 113,800 positions before 2025, according a Conference Board of Canada report released in December.
The report, titled Sowing the Seeds of Growth: Temporary Foreign Workers in Agriculture, found the industry faces unique recruitment and retention challenges such as “an aging workforce, the rural location of many operations, and negative perceptions about working in the sector.”
“The beauty of WorkHorse is that the platform gives us accessibility to employees, both domestic and international, that we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Kristjan Hebert, co-creator and managing partner at Hebert Grain Ventures, told CTV Regina on Friday.
Like many popular online communities, WorkHorse asks users to create a free profile showcasing their skills and personality through photos and video. Employers can post available positions and review potential applicants. The site charges employers a $500 fee for each job post, or up to $2,400 for an annual subscription.
The traffic could be significant given that agricultural workers tend to look for work more often than many other professions. At its seasonal peak, the sector needs about 100,000 more workers than at seasonal lows, according to the Conference Board report. That change represents a 30 per cent fluctuation. The average difference between the seasonal peak and low in employment for all other sectors is just four per cent.
WorkHorse launched on March 31, and currently has five positions on offer. Hebert expects the site will feature a wide range of positions at all levels of skill.
“From heavy equipment all the way up to the executive level, WorkHorse is meant to bridge the gap between employers, not only in the province of Saskatchewan, but around the country,” he said.
Wages in agriculture are reported to have risen relative to the average for all sectors over the past 15 years, but the number of Canadians willing to work in agriculture has shrunk. Hebert hopes he can lure more workers to farms that could otherwise be forced to close by helping to dispel long-held stereotypes about the business.
“We’re looking for different skill sets that we used to be. I think that there is a lot of thought that still in ‘ag’ that we wear coveralls and have straw sticking out of mouth and work 20 hours per day running a pitch fork,” he said. “Now we get million-dollar air seeders with five or six iPads in them.”
With a report from CTV Regina's Jessica Smith