Making farming more sustainable with international experience


Livestock farming can be a tricky business when farmers have little control over the sex of the offspring produced by their breeding stock. Balancing the ratio of males to females is key to management of the overall population. Fast Genetics is a Canadian company helping pig farmers maintain that balance, control costs and improve sustainability. When the firm lost a key team member, it needed to find a replacement who could get up to speed quickly with minimal training. A promising candidate from the United Arab Emirates mentioned he was deemed BioReady through BioTalent Canada’s BioSkills Recognition Program — and Fast Genetics human resources manager Eleanor Scharf was intrigued.

International experience, Canadian context

“We do a lot of international recruitment and there are great candidates, but it can be tough to confirm credentials and employment history,” Scharf says. “Just trying to get in touch with references is a challenge. Overseas long-distance charges are high, you have to manage time zones, and there are often major language barriers.”

BioTalent Canada’s BioSkills Recognition and BioReady Paid Internship programs were a powerful draw for Fast Genetics. The funding support made it possible to bring on a paid intern even with a tight budget. The candidate’s BioReady recognition meant his education and experience were confirmed suitable for the Canadian market and his references had been verified. Scharf was confident they’d be making a good hire.

She was right. The new hire quickly integrated into the lab, performing tasks from media preparation to cell sorting and analysis to equipment sterilization and maintenance. His experience with breeding programs in Dubai meant he came in with a better understanding of Fast Genetics’ work than most new hires and had little trouble transferring his knowledge to the sex selection program.

New perspectives support innovation

Scharf says the intern’s international experience was a bonus that provided additional benefit: “Internationally educated professionals bring new, diverse perspectives, which are especially valuable when you’re trying to innovate. Those new ideas, paired with his understanding of our industry, have been really great assets for our company.”

When his internship was over, it was an easy decision to hire him on permanently, and Scharf says the program was so straightforward and produced such a good result that she will be on the lookout for similar programs to help with future hiring needs.

“This program helped us hire an excellent employee,” says Scharf. “It was a great fit for us, and we hope it continues, because we’d love the opportunity to use it again.”