Harvest and Prosper offers experience ‘in the field’
Creating jobs for Islanders -
When Lorne Valley Ranch developed a new crop - high-bush blueberries - co-owner Phil Jennings IV said the province's Harvest and Prosper program helped fill jobs they were having a hard time filling.
“We had done different things trying to find help, putting ads on Facebook and Kijiji and different places but it was hard to get the people we need,” said Jennings, who was developing 200 acres of high-bush blueberries. “This program helped us get the people we needed.”
“There was no issue with experience because high-bush blueberries have never been done here. It’s been a lot of on-the-job training, but these people have been very receptive.”
Harvest and Prosper helps agriculture businesses hire during the busy harvest season while helping up to 50 newcomers – and social assistance and disability-support clients – overcome barriers to employment. It is a pilot project developed with government departments, industry associations, and service providers.
The Adventure Group is one of the program partners helping participants gain skills in the agriculture sector and preparing them for sustainable employment. Executive director Roxanne Carter-Thompson said the program was set up in cooperation with the Agriculture Sector Council to meet labour needs while helping people who are looking to join the work force.
“Our goal is to see some of these people develop the skills and experience needed in the workforce,” she said. “Our hope is to see them move into full-time employment or access training programs that are offered through SkillsPEI."
“This is physical, demanding work. It gives people a good idea of what they can expect in this industry. But we’re seeing a very positive response from the people we work with.”
She said the Harvest and Prosper program benefits both the trainees and the industry.
“There’s partnerships and cooperation across the table,” she said.
Jennings, of Lorne Valley Ranch, said he’s been pleased with his experience of the Harvest and Prosper model.
“We’ve had about a 70 per cent retention rate with Harvest and Prosper, which is great,” he said.
“If the program is available we would like to utilize it next spring; as soon as the snow melts – and we can get started on pruning – we plan to go right back to it.”