Expanding Job Entry Pathways in Agri-food

First Work is excited to partner with the Ontario government to expand job entry pathways in Agri-food.

As with other sectors, the agriculture and food processing sectors are facing high labour shortages and a depleting workforce.

As Ontario navigates the increasing talent gaps and supply chain vulnerabilities, there is also opportunity to strengthen job pathways that better align with the new workforce’s motivations.


First Work is engaging Employment Service Agencies (ESPs) to participate in this project as well as Agri-food employers to establish talent pathways in various sub-sectors.

Over the next year, First Work aims to:

  1. Equip ESPs with the knowledge and tools needed to explore Agri-food as a viable job pathway for jobseekers;
  2. Inform job seekers about in-demand career pathways in Agri-food;
  3. Provide employers with financial and recruitment support for hiring, training, and retaining employees by facilitating employer-ESP relationships; and
  4. Host 4 regional Farm to Fork Career Exploration Fair.
    • The Aspire Farm to Fork Career Fair will drive youth interest in Agri-food careers – from farm to fork. Young job seekers will engage with employers and exhibitors via interactive activity booths to learn about roles and in-demand careers they were previously unaware of.

Participation in the Expanding Job Entry Pathways in Agri-food initiative is open to all Employment Service Agencies and Agri-food business across Ontario. Although, due to regional demand, additional resources will be allocated to the following regions:

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

These regions have been selected following over 40 interviews with Member ESPs, employers, planning boards, and other stakeholders across Ontario.


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.