Students helping to fill gaps at P.E.I. seafood processing plants this summer

The executive director of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association says an increase in funding for the Island's Team Seafood program, has helped attract more students to work in Island plants.

Last year, Team Seafood program saw total of 66 students, compared to 137 students so far this year

Jerry Gavin, executive director of P.E.I.'s Seafood Processors Association, says plants on P.E.I. are trying to recruit unemployed Islanders and students to fill the labour gap. (CBC)

The executive director of the P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association says an increase in provincial funding for the Team Seafood program has helped attract more students to work in Island plants.

The program, first launched in 2016, encourages P.E.I. high school and university students looking to earn some extra cash over the summer months to consider jobs in Island seafood processing plants. Along with the wages students earn, they receive bursaries through the program.

The biggest issue facing the seafood sector on P.E.I. is the lack of workers, said Jerry Gavin, executive director of the association.

Gavin said this year's season started with a drop of about 30 per cent of its regular workforce. But Team Seafood is helping to fill those gaps, he said. 

Increased provincial funding

"This is the fifth year of Team Seafood, but we're very pleased this year that with the support of the provincial government we were able to increase the bursary for students that completed a work term at a seafood plant," Gavin said. 

It's a help, no doubt about that.— Jerry Gavin, P.E.I. Seafood Processors Association

This year, the bursaries being offered to students who complete a work term in the plants have increased from $500 to $1,000 for high school students, and from $1,000 to $2,000 for university students.

"We now have more students working in seafood processing plants than ever before," he said.

Last year, there were 66 students in the program, Gavin said. This year there are 137. 

He said the program set an "ambitious" target of about 250 students this year. So far, he said, its received 190 applications, with more trickling in. 

"It's a help, no doubt about that," Gavin said. 

"I think the local workforce appreciates the students. They know the work is there and it's needed to get done and it's good to have young energetic students in your facilities as well."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Angela Walker


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