Upcoming post-secondary programs set to strengthen plant-based skills and talent


Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients sector is growing—and becoming increasingly innovative. With this, however, comes an increased need for skilled and talented workers across the sector, particularly as companies expand their workforce and begin looking to fill newly created jobs.

Post-secondary institutions across Canada are coming together with industry to ensure the country’s labour force is prepared to fill these new roles. In May 2022, Assiniboine Community College launched a project with Roquette, supported by Protein Industries Canada, to develop a new set of diploma programs. Designed with industry needs in mind, the programs would help students develop new skills while creating connections with potential future employers.

“We worked closely with industry to have them confirm learning outcomes, and participate in program mapping exercises,” said Tim Hore, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Environment at Assiniboine. “Industry helped us to identify key skills that are required in today’s manufacturing sector, and this translated into identifying new courses for development. They were also key in identifying workspace requirements, equipment and safety training required of our students.”

By the end of the project, Assiniboine Community College and its industry partners will have developed two new, three-year diploma programs: the Food Science Technology program, which studies food and beverage industry issues; and the Chemical Engineering Technology program, which provides students an opportunity to develop their skills as chemical technologists. Up to 24 students per year will be accepted into each program, helping fill the growing need for labour in both areas.

Tim Hore, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Environment, Assiniboine Community College

In 2019, the college launched the Prairie Innovation Centre campaign. The team has increased its fundraising goal twice, from $10 to 15 million, now nearing in on a new $20 million goal. In January, the Province of Manitoba made an initial commitment of $10 million toward design and costing.

“From the donations received from businesses in Westman to the collaboration on program planning and learning outcomes with industry partners, it is very clear there is a need for these skills in the ag industry at both a provincial and national level,” Hore said. “Our industry partners have been extremely willing to provide input into course development and have identified that they will be willing to participate in work integrated learning, [which is] paid work terms for our students, when the time comes.”

With such significant success related to collaboration, Hore and his team don’t see industry’s role in the programs disappearing now that the curriculum has been developed. Instead, Assiniboine Community College will continue to work with industry through a Program Advisory Committee, as well as through co-ops students can choose to participate in.

The Food Science Technology program and Chemical Engineering Technology program will each be available through Assiniboine Community College’s Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. For more information, including future registration information, please visit assiniboine.net.