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Tour links Syrian refugees with agri-industry jobs

Syrian refugees will explore agricultural career opportunities in Prince Edward County Thursday.

Quinte Immigration Services (QUIS), Farmers Feed the World and The County’s Community Development Department will be hosting a bus trip throughout the County in a pilot project to help government and privately-sponsored Syrian refugees find employment and residency in the County.

The day long tour will include stops at the Highline Mushroom Farm, Norman Hardie Winery, Hillier Creek Estates and Hagerman Farms.

QUIS acts as a matchmaker by connecting refugees with food and agriculture skills to employers in the agri-food industry.

Thirty refugees from Kingston, Mississauga, Hamilton and Prince Edward County are scheduled to participate.

A Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) study conducted in 2016 found that more than 80 per cent of local employers in the manufacturing and construction industries have plans to expand; however, more than 50 per cent have identified hiring challenges more than twice the provincial average.

“Since conducting the BR+E study, the CEDC has made workforce attraction a key priority,” said Bill Roberts, chairman of the Community and Economic Development Commission (CEDC). “The farm tour is one of many initiatives being undertaken by the Community Development Department with support from the CEDC that supports workforce attraction.”

Orlando Ferro, executive director of Quinte Immigration Services, said the refugees could help address the shortage of labour in the food sector.

“Ontario is currently facing labour shortage challenges in the agri-food sector due to an aging population of farmers,” he said. “It is estimated that 25 per cent of government-assisted refugees in Ontario have agricultural experience.

For refugee families, the financial support by the federal government and the commitment from sponsoring groups generally ends after their first 12 months in Canada.

Filed Under: Local News

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