New reports show that agriculture, and the seed industry, are hot spots for youth looking at potential career opportunities.

There’s a growing interest in agriculture education and an increasing number of job opportunities in the industry, according to Statistics Canada data. Data reveals there were a total of 12,168 students studying in agriculture or ag-related programs in 2014, an increase of 2.7 per cent from the previous year and a 16.6 per cent overall increase from 2009-10.

A recent informal Farm Credit Canada (FCC) survey confirms agriculture has become a popular career option. “This is a testament to the strength and appeal of Canada’s agriculture industry, which is generating more interest among students than ever before,” says Todd Klink, FCC’s chief marketing officer. And the seed industry is a part of that.

According to the Canadian Seed Trade Association, the seed industry contributes billions of dollars to the economy and employs more than 14,000 people across a range of jobs. “The seed industry is global, diverse and very complex — significant investment is taking place which is driving development at a fast pace, and we rely on technology and innovation to become more efficient and competitive,” says Scott Horner, general manager of HyTech Production Ltd.

The need to attract skilled and educated young people to the industry is highlighted in a recent study by Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC). The study shows the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. The study also reveals that primary agriculture has the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent.

“The sustainability and future growth of Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry is at risk,” says Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst, CAHRC executive director. “It is critically important that this risk is acknowledged and mitigated in an intentional and strategic way.”

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