Aquaculture jobs plentiful on P.E.I., industry says

·2 min read
'Good-paying' jobs are available in the aquaculture industry, says the group representing the sector. Here, an all-women crew works at Atlantic Aqua Farms in the summer of 2020. (Submitted by Dana Drummond/Atlantic Aqua Farms - image credit)
'Good-paying' jobs are available in the aquaculture industry, says the group representing the sector. Here, an all-women crew works at Atlantic Aqua Farms in the summer of 2020. (Submitted by Dana Drummond/Atlantic Aqua Farms - image credit)

While employers in P.E.I.'s tourism sector are asking summer job seekers to be patient, employers in aquaculture say they're in dire need of staff.

Oyster, mussel and finfish companies are hiring, and are having a tough time attracting applicants.

"Aquaculture has some specific challenges, in [that] not a lot of people are necessarily aware of the industry and aware of the employment opportunities out there," said the P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance's Peter Warris, adding many of the jobs pay well and are full-time, year-round.

"In the past it may have had a reputation as not necessarily the most comfortable industry to work in," he added.

The Alliance is now trying to highlight the industry as being an employment opportunity, and has developed a recruitment and retention action and training plan for its members.

"We really want to help them get out there and find good employees and to keep the employees that they have," Warris said.

'Less-traditional labour pools'

The organization plans to raise awareness about jobs available in the industry, help member businesses get better access to recruitment tools and information and help them expand how they're looking for new employees — "Not just the same job ads that they've been posting," Warris said.

It will also highlight the fact that some aquaculture employers already offer incentives and benefits like health, dental and RRSP plans, as well as attendance incentives, vehicle allowances, gift cards and equipment and production bonuses. Some have begun offering increased wages and training and reduced hours over the past two years in an attempt to recruit more people.

Warris said they will also start looking at less-traditional labour pools, reaching out beyond the immediate geographic area of where aquaculture businesses are located.

As far as retaining employees, Warris said the alliance is looking at some of the barriers including shift times and transportation to work, which is most often in rural areas, and is looking at developing pilot projects to address those issues.

The organization currently has funding from Skills PEI to pay a consultant to develop and implement the strategy, and Warris said it will be seeking further funding in the next few years.

Warris said he acknowledges the process could take time.

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