Operation Ag Careers: Connecting Outgoing Members of the Military With Ag Employers

It’s estimated as many as 5,000 people transition out of the Canadian Forces each year. Most of them are between the ages of 28 and 35, and they’re looking for a meaningful career as they enter civilian life.

At the same time, finding skilled employees is consistently one of the top challenges across Canadian agriculture — from the farm level through to retail.

“We’ve been looking for a solution that is timely and can offer a new pool of labour resources to the sector,” says Delaney Ross Burtnack, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers, in the interview below.

Together with the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council, CAAR is developing “Operation Ag Careers,” which aims to connect individuals transitioning out of the military with career opportunities in agriculture.

Master Corporal Samantha Sanheim (l) and Kristine Johnston (r), Services Coordinator, Integrated Personnel Support Centre (IPSC). Sanheim is interested in a career in horticulture. (CAAR)
Master Corporal Samantha Sanheim (l) and Kristine Johnston (r), Services Coordinator, Integrated Personnel Support Centre (IPSC). Sanheim is interested in a career in horticulture. (CAAR)

Ross Burtnack points out there are some cultural similarities between the military and ag communities that might be attractive to veterans; both tend to consist of people who are proud of their family heritage and are results-oriented. Skills acquired in the military are also transferable to agriculture, whether it’s working in logistics, human resources or as a mechanic, she notes.

One of the first goals of the program is to simply raise awareness about the opportunities in ag.

“Many of them haven’t considered agriculture. The perception of agriculture is probably the same as what many in the public hold. They expect farming as the option for agriculture,” says Ross Burtnack.

Plans are in place to launch an online job board in early 2016 which will “scrape” job postings from other sites and repost all ag-related openings in one location.

A skills self-assessment tool will also help individuals determine which careers match their skills and interests.

Ross Burtnack notes ag employers are welcome to participate in the process of developing the program, and are encouraged to contact the CAAR office at [email protected] to learn more.

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