P.E.I. farm apprenticeships first in Canada

Farm workers on Prince Edward Island will take part in Canada’s first-ever farm technician apprenticeship program, the provincial and federal governments announced Wednesday.

Under the program, farm workers will get a combination of classroom instruction and on-farm experience to qualify as farm technicians under the provincial apprenticeship program. The program is to be developed and delivered by the Nova Scotia Agriculture College.

The apprenticeship program, which will take three years to complete, is expected to begin in January 2009, the province said.

The program will include about eight weeks of study blocks per year over three winters. For the remainder of the year, the apprentice will work full time with a farm mentor (employer), the province said.

Participants will have access to training for licensing in key areas such as Class 3A, pesticide certificates and first aid, the province said. Apprenticeship programs are offered at no cost to participants.

The province’s Agriculture Sector Council was the driving force is getting the program off the ground, the province said. Farm technicians were designated as an apprenticeable trade in P.E.I. in May 2005.

A committee of agricultural employers and employees representing various commodities then outlined the skills that would be required of a farm technician. With the training requirements outlined, NSAC made the successful proposal to develop the learning materials and to deliver the program.

“By having more well-trained employees on the farm, producers will be better able to adapt to agricultural advances in the future,” said Cameron MacDonald, chair of the sector council, in the province’s release.

“Today’s farm operations require a high level of skills and knowledge in areas such as food safety, farm safety and the use of technologies,” provincial Ag Minister Neil LeClair said in the release. “The training of people to work in the industry will help it become more competitive and sustainable.”

Those interested in taking part in the program can contact the Prince Edward Island Apprenticeship Section at 902-368-4460.

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