Sask. ag worker course nixed

A program designed to train agricultural workers and help alleviate a shortage of skilled labour on Saskatchewan farms did not continue beyond a pilot project stage.

The Agricultural Operator Program was announced in 2014 as part of the provincial government’s growth plan.

It was delivered by Parkland Regional College in Yorkton and, if successful, was to be expanded province-wide.

However, the pilot was discontinued after 17 people participated in 2014 and only eight in 2015.

“The uptake was very low,” said Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart.

“With the tuition students would have paid if the classes were full, the cost would have been quite manageable, but they weren’t and so we haven’t done that this last year.”

The first modules of seeding, spraying and scouting, and harvesting included both hands-on workshops and online training.

Because of the low enrolment, the plan to develop livestock modules was never carried out.

Stewart said a similar type of program could be revived if there was enough demand.

The government had hoped that the program would attract new entrants to the agricultural workforce as well as help general farm labourers upgrade their skills.

“We did a lot of advertising and we tried hard to get the word out, but we fell quite short of filling those classes,” he said.

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