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.

Workforce Development Innovations

First Work tackles complex youth employment-related challenges and identifies new, innovative solutions. Bringing together progressive talent who challenge each other to do better, we search and test new approaches for better outcomes.

  • Emerging Service Approaches
  • Program Innovation Pilots
  • Information & Technology Integration

Strategic Collaboration

First Work creates partnerships and strategic alliances to leverage our ability to address employment challenges and increase our collective impact. We identify and secure partners who share our commitment to young people and their employment journey.

  • Public, Private, and Non-Profit Partnerships
  • Research & Evaluation
  • Mobilization & Partnership Agreements

Knowledge Advancement

First Work provides learning and professional development opportunities tailored to youth engagement, workforce development and industry professionals. We host conferences and educational events to strengthen the capacity of the sector.

  • Conference & Learning Exchanges
  • Community of Practice
  • Credentialing & Certifications

Cultivating Talent

First Work engages with Employers to provide sustainable youth employment by discovering career pathways, creating youth friendly workplaces, articulating skill requirements, and connecting youth to the local economy.

  • Labour Mobility Pathways
  • School-to-Work Transition
  • Fostering Entrepreneurship