Protein Industries Canada invests in micro-credentials program for indigenous youth to support food manufacturing careers
by CM Staff
This micro-credential will be developed in partnership with industry stakeholders across the country, helping narrow its focus onto skills most needed by employers in the sector.
SASKATOON — On May 17, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) and Whitecap Dakota First Nation, with a co-investment from Protein Industries Canada, announced that they are coming together to create a new micro-credential for Indigenous youth in Western Canada. This micro-credential will be developed in partnership with industry stakeholders across the country, helping narrow its focus onto skills most needed by employers in the sector.
“Canada needs a skilled and diverse workforce to support our thriving plant-based protein sector,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Through this new post-secondary program, Indigenous youth will have the opportunity to receive specialized training and access networking opportunities that will help them succeed. This will prepare them for employment in the food processing sector while helping the sector fill the highly specialized technical positions required to succeed in the global market.”
“In order for the promising plant-based protein sector to continue to grow, we must support efforts that improve access to skilled workers. Educational projects, such as those run by the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Whitecap Dakota First Nation, play an important role in empowering Indigenous youth and business leaders to develop their skills to become leaders in the processing and manufacturing of plant-based foods,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Each semester will include 60 hours of on-site practicum, as well as networking opportunities with processing business leaders, Indigenous Elders, Chiefs and Council, and other Indigenous youth. These combined experiences, along with industry’s involvement in the micro-credential’s development, hopes to ensure that the students have the skills needed to take part in the increasing opportunities and economic growth available within Canada’s growing plant-based food and ingredients sector, while addressing the food processing sector’s growing labour shortage.
“One of Canada’s fastest-growing sectors, the plant-based food and ingredients sector will require more than 17,000 new jobs across the country in the coming years,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “By offering Indigenous youth with targeted learning opportunities that provide valuable skillsets, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Whitecap Dakota First Nation are preparing the future generation for long-term employment in the sector and increasing Canada’s ability to meet the growing global demand for plant-based protein.”
To further help students and other Indigenous youth see success as employees in the sector, SIIT and Whitecap Dakota First Nation will also be incorporating an employer-training opportunity into the project. SIIT has created a Program Advisory Committee to help develop and deploy the curriculum. This committee includes leading regional food and ingredient processors such as Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, Bioriginal Food & Science, Ingredion and Horizon Manufacturing.
“Ingredion is very pleased to be contributor to this important project,” Ingredion’s Vanscoy-based Plant Manager Jimmy DeArmond said. “As a global business with extensive history in Canada and numerous communities around the world, Ingredion takes its training and engagement very seriously. We are looking forward to working with SIIT to develop core skills for Indigenous youth and simultaneously learning how we can grow as an organization and as individuals to integrate the Truth and Reconciliation findings and recommendations.”
A total of $964,000 is being committed to the project, with Protein Industries Canada committing $514,000 and the partners committing the remainder.