Institute of Food Processing Technology Addresses Workforce Shortage in Ontario's Largest Manufacturing Employer

Grand Opening of the Institute of Food Processing Technology

CAMBRIDGE, ON, Nov. 15, 2012 /CNW/ - The grand opening of the Institute of Food Processing Technology (IFPT) was celebrated today at the Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning with the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), the Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Honourable John Milloy, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The opening of the IFPT marks an important leap for the food and beverage manufacturing industry, Ontario's largest manufacturing employer. Created through a partnership between the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors (AOFP) and Conestoga, the facility is the first and only technology centre that focuses on developing a skilled workforce, tailored to the needs of the sector.

"Our government is committed to helping southern Ontario's manufacturers be more competitive, adaptive and innovative," said Minister Goodyear. "By supporting the Institute of Food Processing Technology, we are helping to ensure that our region's food processing and manufacturing sector has the skilled workforce it needs to grow and prosper."

The opening of the IFPT comes at a crucial time for Ontario's food and beverage manufacturing industry. A recent study released by the AOFP from consulting firm MNP LLP predicted that the sector will face serious long-term skilled workforce shortages by 2026. The opening of the IFPT seeks to mitigate these shortages, support innovation and technology, and strengthen Ontario's economy.

"The Ontario government was pleased to collaborate in funding the creation of this unique institution," said Minister McMeekin. "The Institute of Food Processing Technology has both leading-edge technology and expert instructors to provide the education and training programs that meet the growing needs of our food processing sector."

Minister Milloy adds, "This new, state-of-the art facility helps Conestoga create new opportunities for more students to achieve and exceed their career goals. The success of Ontario's postsecondary students and apprentices is key to our province's economic prosperity."

"We are very pleased to work with our government and industry partners to address the labour market needs of Canada's food processing sector," said Conestoga President John Tibbits. "The advanced education and training programs that will be delivered through IFPT will provide many opportunities for students seeking successful careers as well as addressing the needs of one of Canada's largest and most important industries."

During the grand opening, President Tibbits also announced the Institute would be named the Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology in recognition of the tremendous contributions made by the president of AOFP, Craig Richardson. A strong advocate of the endless possibilities of solid partnerships, Richardson was a major driving force in making the IFPT a reality.

"The IFPT is a perfect example of government, academia and industry working together to eliminate obstacles that impede the success of the Canadian economy," said Craig Richardson, President of the AOFP. "Together we've created Canada's first and only skilled trades training facility dedicated to the vital food manufacturing sector."

About AOFP

The Alliance of Ontario Food Processors is a non-profit organization of food and beverage manufacturing companies and industry organizations. Members have joined together to provide a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach to promoting and representing the Ontario food and beverage manufacturing industry on issues of common interest and concern.

About Conestoga

Conestoga is a leader in polytechnic education, providing a full range of career-focused education and training programs to meet the needs of learners and our growing community. The Institute of Food Processing Technology, created in partnership with the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors and with support from the governments of Canada and Ontario, provides hands-on, experiential learning in the classroom, mechanical shops, laboratory settings, and on-site pilot plant to promote the development of a skilled workforce for Canada's food processing industry.

SOURCE: Alliance of Ontario Food Processors

For further information:

Tegan Fair
Communications Manager, AOFP
(519) 650-3741 ext.226
tfair@aofp.ca

Brenda Cassidy
Corporate Communications Manager,
Conestoga
(519) 748-5220 ext 3336
bcassidy@conestogac.on.ca