The agricultural innovation centre at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon is inching closer to reality.
Earlier in March, Wawanesa Insurance donated $100,000 to help build the Prairie Innovation Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.
Currently, ACC trains about 260 students on campus, each year, in agriculture and environment programs, such as agribusiness, for agricultural equipment technicians and sustainable food systems.
The college hopes to triple the number of agriculture, environment and ag technology students at ACC, potentially reaching 800 per year.
The Innovation Centre is a key part of that plan. It will include new programming in subjects like Robotics and Industrial Automation, Food Science Technology and Advanced Agriculture.
“The Prairie Innovation Centre will not only address the current and developing gaps in the labour market in Manitoba agriculture, it will also be a hub for agricultural innovation, encouraging engagement and collaboration with industry partners to address emerging situations and issues,” said Derrick Turner, Director of Advancement and External Relations at Assiniboine. “The college looks forward to building upon the relationships we have with partners, like Wawanesa Insurance.”
Surveys show that producers and ag industry firms struggle to find trained employees, who have the knowledge and skills to work in modern agriculture.
“Many farmers are unable to find workers with the technical knowledge and digital expertise they need to program, operate and service highly technical machinery and equipment, as well as provide specialized animal care. There is a need to develop new skillsets within the sector,” the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council said in a news release in 2019.
The ACC Innovation Centre will help train employees for Canada’s ag industry and become a hub for applied ag research.
Since unveiling plans for the innovation centre last fall, ACC has received $1.2 million in donations. The college hopes to raise $10 million in private funds and $40 million in public investments to build the $50 million Prairie Innovation Centre.