“The number of roles are just endless”: How DC is preparing students for in-demand jobs in the food and beverage industry

The food and beverage industry is on a hiring spree and Durham College (DC) students are gaining the hands-on skills and experience employers are looking for.

Food Processing Skills Canada reports that roughly 300,000 people work in the industry and that number is expected to grow to 325,000 by 2030. However, with more than 65,000 people set to retire and existing vacancies, the industry needs to attract 142,000 workers in the next seven years, causing companies across the country to begin hiring.

“The number of roles are just endless,” said Wendy Smith, a food science and technology professor in DC’s Food and Farming program. “If you look on a job website like Indeed right now, there are so many positions for quality control technicians, quality assurance technicians, product development and production management positions, machine operators, and process technologists—it just goes on and on.”

On the horticulture side, potential jobs include farm supervisor, labour supervisor, jobs in agritourism and much more.

Smith explains numerous DC programs prepare students for food and beverage industry jobs including Culinary Management and Horticulture – Food and Farming but also programs like Biotechnology and the skilled trades.

“If you talk to the skilled trades people, millwrights machine operators, electricians, HVAC workers, and plumbers, they're all going to have roles in food manufacturing,” said Smith.

Kelly O’Brien, Associate Dean for the Faculty of Hospitality and Horticultural Science at DC says it’s important for prospective students to understand the large number of pathways in the food and beverage industry.

For example, a culinary graduate may not become a chef.

“We hired a new faculty member in the fall and he’s like I need three people now, stat, to work in food production and manufacturing and he was looking for culinary students,” she said.

Entrepreneurship is also a major pathway for students in the Food and Farming program with about 25 per cent launching an entrepreneurial endeavour.

Smith is a DC alumna and was part of the first graduating class of the Food and Drug Technology program. She went on to a career in research development and product development with companies like General Foods (now Kraft) and Nestle. She said when she speaks to people in her industry, they often say they fell into a career in food science. She believes there should be more awareness of the great career possibilities.

“My whole career has been in food science, and I'm really happy with the career. There have been so many different types of opportunities and I've been able to grow creatively and also in terms of management and leadership skills.”


Careers in a bottle

It can take up to 24 different careers to create DC ketchup including chefs, horticulturalists, food safety technicians, food product developers, sales and marketing and so much more! Explore DC’s Story of Food and imagine the possibilities.

Fascinated by food, culinary management grad headed back to DC

Graduate Spotlight: Liv Domik

Though she’s crossing the stage and picking up her diploma in Culinary Management, Liv Domik is not quite finished with her DC journey.

That’s because she’s continuing on in the Horticulture—Food and Farming program where she will pick up skills, training and experiences that naturally complement her culinary management background.

“I dream of becoming a food product developer on a corporate level or becoming a chef at a food and drink magazine,” said Domik. “I love to be creative with food and I think an environment like that would be my perfect place.”

Her journey began during the COVID-19 pandemic when she was selected for the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), a school-to-work program that allows secondary school students to complete their high school diplomas while gaining experience in the skilled trades. She began attending DC in February 2021.

“In my second year, I hit the ground running with experience in the industry under my belt and a fire in me to become the person I wanted to become,” she said. “This drive got me a job at The Springwood right out of college.”

Located in Whitby, The Springwood restaurant focuses on locally sourced food and seasonality.

Based on her experiences at DC and working at the restaurant, Domik decided to return to college for the Food and Farming program.

She said she learned key culinary skills for her industry at DC.

“I also got to learn many different cuisines and service styles which felt unique to this program.”

Domik encourages potential students to consider the culinary management program.

“People take the program for multiple reasons,” she said. “Some people take it to learn the language of food and have a deeper appreciation for it while others take it to become great chefs and own their own restaurants.”

Any advice for future students?

“I want you to remember that tough times don’t last, tough people do. Love yourself and just remember we are all a work in progress.”

Are you looking to make a career out of a love for food? Check out these popular programs offered at DC in the Faculty of Hospitality and Horticultural Science: