Expanding Job Entry Pathways in Agri-food

First Work was thrilled to partner with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to expand job entry pathways in Agri-food.

In 2023, Ontario’s agriculture and food processing sectors were facing a depleting workforce. At the same time, there’s opportunity to strengthen the working relationships of community employment service providers and the employers who power Ontario’s Agri-food sector.

The Expanding Job Entry Pathways in Agri-food project aimed to build up the interest and access to Agri-food job pathways, while also better connecting employers to existing Employment Ontario supports.

To achieve this goal, First Work and its network of Employment Service Providers (ESPs) undertook activities to ensure both stakeholder-audiences were prioritised.

  1. Employers
    • Awareness building for ESP-services
    • Engagement for Career Fairs

  2. Jobseekers
    • Information sessions
    • Farm to Fork Career Fair Series

Employer Resources

Employers are encouraged to continue to utilize the resources developed for this project:


Don’t forget, ESPs can help any small employer with FREE recruitment, training and retention support including:

  • Up to $10,000 per employee for professional development;
  • Provincial funding up to $5,000 for hiring new talent;
  • A $1000 signing bonus for new apprenticeships;
  • FREE Candidate screening and interview support.

Farm to Fork Career Fair Series

To help drive youth interest in Agri-food careers – anything from farm, to fork – First Work hosted 4 regional career exploration and hiring fairs, in collaboration with local ESPs. Across Ontario, young jobseekers engaged with employers and exhibitors via interactive activity booths to learn about roles and in-demand careers they were previously unaware of.

  1. Windsor to London
  2. Niagara to Hamilton
  3. Brockville to Ottawa
  4. GTA West (Peel and Toronto)

The Aspire Farm to Fork Career Fair series was a culmination of ongoing achievements from First Work’s member agencies combined with a sectoral, province-wide lens of labourforce needs. The location of each event was selected following over 40 interviews with Member ESPs, employers, planning boards, and other stakeholders across Ontario.

Jobseekers can independently explore the potential of Ontario’s Agri-foods industry via GPS for Your Career. Through ongoing partnership with FutureFit AI, anyone in Ontario can register for a GPS for Your Career – the free career navigation platform that can show you the various job pathways for life-long careers in Agri-food.

Check out a demonstration here:

ESP Resources

ESPs interested in learning more about Ontario’s Agri-food sector can use these resources:

Training Recordings

Project Partners

Our thanks to the First Work network partners who helped to make this project a success.


At Achēv, we believe that everyone deserves an equal opportunity to build a better life and a successful future. For more than 30 years, we have dedicated ourselves to helping diverse Canadians and newcomers achieve their full potential. Today, we are one of the largest providers of employment, newcomer, language and youth services in the Greater Toronto Area. Our dedicated team of nearly 400 staff delivers a wide range of innovative, high-quality and personalized programs and services that empower our clients to prosper and communities to thrive.


Centre de services à l'emploi de Prescott-Russell

The Employment Services Centre (CSEPR) serves job seekers, workers, entrepreneurs and employers in the greater Prescott and Russell region in Ontario. Our non-profit organization was incorporated in 1983. To better serve our clientele, we operate three branches, including the head office in Hawkesbury and offices in Rockland and Embrun.

The Centre provides its various clientele with many services: employment counselling; psychometric testing; assessment and identification of training and development needs; résumé writing; work placement and on-the-job training; funding for integration-related accessories and workplace accommodations; scholarships; group workshops; visit of businesses; work experience and virtual career exploration activities.


CERF Niagara

CERF Niagara is committed to meeting the employment needs of job seekers and employers by offering support with searching, obtaining, and retaining employment to ensure the economic and cultural growth of the Francophone community of Niagara.


CES Oxford

Community Employment Services is a not for profit corporation that has been delivering federal, provincial and municipal employment and training programs in our community since 1994. We are entrenched in collaborative efforts to support a thriving economic climate in Oxford. We invest heavily in skilled worker recruitment, labour force development and strive to address challenges identified within our business community. In addition, through our “Community Development Fund”, we actively nurture and support strategies that enrich the holistic well-being of our community.


Employment + Education Centre

The Employment + Education Centre (EEC) is a charitable not-for-profit agency that is committed to building a vibrant, diverse and resilient community by empowering individuals to reach their goals.


Employment Hamilton

Whether you are looking for work or looking to hire, you’ve come to the right place!

Since 1972, we have helped thousands of people make workplace connections.


Employment Services Elgin

Employment Services Elgin offers a wide range of services to jobseekers, including in-house workshops and appointments with specialists who can help you with the next steps on your career journey.


Goodwill, The Amity Group (Hamilton)

Goodwill Amity harnesses the power of work to address the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges today: we’re a path to income security for individuals and their families; we’re a catalyst for strong and healthy neighbourhoods; we’re a benchmark for sustainability in the retail marketplace. In all these ways, Goodwill Amity is influencing positive, long-lasting transformational change.


Partners for Employment Centre

The Partners for Employment Centre is your expert and resources for employment in the Nord-Aski region. As the primary employment service provider, we help job seekers find work, get training or access post secondary education. For employers, we serve a the first point of contact for filling positions of all levels of skill, education and experience.


Pathway to Possibilities (PTP)

PTP delivers client-focused programs that create positive pathways to employment. From our first meeting with you, to finding your perfect job, we work with you to design a learning pathway tailored to your individual strengths and needs.


Skills for Change

Skills for Change is known for pioneering programs that respond to shifting immigration and workplace trends and lead to employment. The first program, in 1982, was an office training program that successfully led all its first graduates, a group of women from Southeast Asia, into full-time employment.

We take pride in our track record and the recognition of our agency within and outside the Greater Toronto Area and province as a leader in services to internationally trained immigrants. We serve 16,000 people annually.


St. Leonard's Community Services

St. Leonard’s Community Services is a not-for-profit organization that has been offering help to the people in Brantford, Brant, and Haldimand for over 50 years. Today, we provide our community members with support in the areas of Employment, Housing, Justice, and Addictions and Mental Health. Some of the most vulnerable people we work with need assistance in more than one – or even all - of these categories.


The Neighbourhood Group Community Services

The Neighbourhood Group Community Services is a social agency serving more than 40,000 low-income people and families in 30 locations across Toronto. With more than 1,000 staff and the support of over 600 volunteers, our free programs and services address the most pressing issues in our community: poverty, homelessness, mental health, unemployment, social isolation, substance abuse, conflict resolution, violence, youth alienation, and the settlement of newcomers.


Tillsonburg & District Multi-Service Centre

Opened in 1978 in Tillsonburg Ontario, the Multi-Service Centre (MSC) is an accredited, charitable organization dedicated to promoting high quality accessible community services in Oxford, Elgin and Norfolk Counties.

Multi-Service Centre Employment and Literacy services provide training and support to help people develop new skills and secure employment. We offer employers on-site solutions for all their workforce requirements. With locations in Tillsonburg and Woodstock, our free services are easy to access and flexible to meet your company's needs.


UHC-Hub of Opportunities

Founded in 1977, UHC- Hub of Opportunities is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to meeting the needs of vulnerable people living in Windsor and Essex County. We improve the quality of lives by providing much needed programs and services that move people to independence and allow them to achieve their desired outcomes. Through offering 26 unique programs and services, we aim to focus on four pillars of support & guidance for the Windsor-Essex community – basic human needs, employment services, training and education, and newcomer settlement services. We are a ‘hub’ based in the community, for the community.


WoodGreen Community Services

WoodGreen is one of the largest social service agencies in Toronto, delivering integrated programs from physical, mental health and disability services to affordable housing and pathways to employment. For 85 years, we have worked with communities to improve health and wellbeing for seniors, single mothers, newcomers and youth, creating new opportunities to thrive.


Youth Opportunities Unlimited

Since 1982, Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) has helped lead youth in London and Middlesex County toward success. We believe that investing in youth and strong communities go hand in hand, and we know that many youth need guidance and support to reach their potential.


Youth Services Bureau (YSB)

With more than 60 years of supporting youth in the Ottawa area, YSB is valued for its expertise in the areas of homelessness, housing, mental health, youth justice, employment, health, diversity, and youth engagement.



This project is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development. First Work and our network of Employment Ontario agencies will help Agri-food businesses across the province find local workers and access employer incentives.

The Expanding Job Entry Pathways project is part of the province’s Food Security and Supply Chain Fund and Grow Ontario Strategy. Actions under the Strategy are designed to support economic recovery and resilience within Ontario’s Agri-food sector, while simultaneously helping address challenges, such as labour shortages and supply chain vulnerabilities.

This Employment Ontario program is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.