It’s the first of its kind in Saskatchewan and it should provide a bit of a helping hand to deal with the agriculture labour shortage, which is evident across the country.

The Agriculture Operator program, which was put together in collaboration by Parkland College and Lakeland College with help from the Saskatchewan Government. is a mix of hands on learning in the field and online courses.

It is made up of 36 hours of hands on workshops and nine hours of online delivery.  The first course will cover essential farm knowledge for seeding processes and equipment maintenance.

Parkland College President Dr. Fay Myers says the modules are timed out not to interfere with any prospective students work at home on the farm.

“The timing of the modules matches the critical times on the farm, so employees take the Seeding Module during the time right before seeding.  Then they can then put their education to use right away in the field,” said Myers.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart says this will help fill some of the labour gap.

“Producers have indicated that they need more skilled labour for their operations and this program directly responds to their needs.” Stewart said.  “Farmers can send current or potential employees through the program to develop or help fine tune their skills.  Additionally, general labourers without a farm background will have an opportunity to gain the experience need to get involved in the industry.”

The pilot first module will be seeding and it runs from March 3rd to April 16th in Yorkton and will be followed by spraying and scouting, May 26th to July 4th and to wrap it up harvesting,, which will take place from July 7th to August 15th.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was on hand this past week for its launch.

“Today’s investment will help those interested in a career in agriculture develop knowledge and skill needed to find gainful employment here in Saskatchewan,“ said Ritz.

After the pilot project concludes, the Saskatchewan government plans to expand the program to regional colleges all over the province.    They are also working on developing more modules to cover the livestock industry, which will include, haying, beef cattle reproduction and calving and cattle husbandry and handling.

For more information on the course, click here.