Assessing training needs for Ontario’s flower growing industry
Many of Ontario’s greenhouse flower growers are struggling to find employees. They’re also in need of a training program that will give their staff the industry-specific skills they need around growing and managing potted and cut flowers.
The Ontario flower industry exports 30 to 40 per cent of its production to the United States, and all plants need to be certified as healthy in order to be cleared to cross the border. This makes expertise in all aspects of plant health and nutrition, including pest management, greenhouse environmental control, and quarantine risk management, absolutely critical.
That has prompted Flowers Canada Ontario (FCO) to access funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) to conduct a study to understand training needs across the industry.
“Floriculture is a significant part of the horticultural industry, and our government recognizes the importance of this sector to the economy,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. “This investment will ensure that the industry can identify the necessary tools and training they need to be more competitive and expand access to critical markets.”
“Helping our agriculture industry grow by better addressing its needs for a skilled workforce is a priority for our government. By supporting the Partnership and through other efforts, we’re determined to help businesses in this sector overcome barriers by enhancing skills that are crucial to future growth,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
“Plant health is critical to our industry and it is related to every position in the greenhouse,” said Jamie Aalbers, FCO’s Research Director. “It’s important that the employees we have are well-trained and we want to encourage them to stay and consider the greenhouse industry as a career, but we also want to attract new people into the industry.”
A committee of growers developed a survey that was circulated to FCO members. Results are being analyzed and are to be shared in a final report to be ready in winter 2019.
If survey results are positive, FCO will develop a strategy to establish and implement a certified flower grower education and training program, designed with input from Ontario flower growers.
Funding from the Partnership is a key contributor to this effort by FCO to ensure future competitiveness of the greenhouse flower industry, he added.
“This funding lets us conduct this assessment in a way that involves the industry in making decisions and ensures the end result will be credible and meaningful,” he said.
This project was funded in part through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of the Partnership in Ontario.