Career fair attracts Albertan youth, hope to bolster future work force of agriculture industry

While farmers and ranchers from all over western Canada showed off the best of the best in Alberta’s largest beef cattle show Saturday, as part of Farmfair International, not far away — in another area inside Edmonton’s Expo Centre — dozens of youth from across the province had the opportunity to learn about a career in the agriculture industry.

“We are having an event for the first time. It’s called Discover Your Future and it is a way to bring youth together with potential employers,” said Patty Milligan, agriculture education specialist at Explore Edmonton.

Roughly one hundred youth attended to the job fair and were able to get information and connect with 15 industry organizations.

Read more: A tight labour market taking a toll on some Edmonton businesses

“There’s a career booth just for women in trades that is really cool and interesting to look at ’cause I really hadn’t really heard anything about them until today,” fair attendee Grace Scheler said.

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16-year-old Scheler traveled from the town of Hannah southeast of Red Deer just for the fair.

“It opens up my eyes to see what options I have in the future,” Scheler said.

Farmer and parent of four, Adele Walsh also travelled several hours from northern Alberta with the hopes of getting her children interested.

“It’s harder and harder to attract kids to stay working on the farm or working in the agriculture industry. So something like this is a great spotlight for kids to see what may be tied to the farm but isn’t directly a position on the farm,” Walsh said.

Horse Racing Alberta is one of the organizations trying to recruit people.

Dawson Guhle with the organization, said ever since the pandemic the industry has been really struggling to find workers.

Read more: Edmonton sees labour shortage as employers struggle to fill hundreds of jobs

“We definitely need a younger generation and we need more exposure. I think those are two areas we need to grow,” Guhle said.

He said, while it is tough to find new staff members, a career in the agriculture industry can be a fulfilling career.

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“It definitely can be intimidating and I think other careers might be accessible but you know it’s one of those type of careers that’s a passion job,” Guhle said.

A passion about animals and the industry, the has lead many youth seeking future opportunities.

“I don’t want this industry to die because it’s such a vital part of this country and our life,” Scheler said.

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