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.



  • Join an upcoming information session to learn more about the Agri-food sector and the in-demand employment opportunities currently available.
  • 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
  • Contact [email protected] if you are interested in receiving 1:1 ongoing employment support in the Agri-food sector.

Employment Service Providers

  • Join an upcoming information session to learn more about the Agri-food sector, in-demand employment opportunities and to include the sector in your career exploration conversation with job seekers.
  • Market the Expanding Job Entry Pathways in Agri-food initiative to jobseekers, prospective employers and other relevant stakeholders.

Agri-food Employers

  • Participate as an Exhibitor in an upcoming Farm to Fork Career Fairs to drive jobseeker interest in Agri-food careers – from farm to fork.
  • Schedule a meeting to discuss how your business can receive FREE recruitment, training and retention support including:
    • Receiving 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;
  • Share the Expanding Job Entry Pathways in Agri-food to employers and associations within your network in need of support filling labour gaps.

Reach out to our Projects team via email ([email protected]) to participate in the Expanding Job Entry Pathways in Agri-food.


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.

Project Partners

We thank our project partners for actively working towards Expanding Job Entry Pathways in Agri-food!:

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.


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 + 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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.