On April 30, the Conestoga community celebrated the first cohort of 16 students from the college’s Agricultural Equipment Operator pilot program at a virtual completion ceremony.
On April 30, the Conestoga community celebrated the first cohort from the college’s Agricultural Equipment Operator pilot program at a virtual completion ceremony.
Through a video presentation, industry partners, government officials and college representatives congratulated students on their success as they prepare to enter the workforce and address a widening agricultural labour gap. The 16-week program, which began in January at the college’s Brantford Airport site, positions graduates to successfully enter a variety of operations with education and training in the latest agricultural equipment, including spraying and fertilizing operations, custom tillage, and harvesting operations.
“Agriculture has a long tradition in the county and remains a key economic driver,” said Zach Gable, senior economic development officer at the County of Brant, in his recorded address. “We knew prior to COVID-19 there was a labour shortage in agriculture. Canadian Agricultural Human Resources Council projects there will be 46,000 agriculture jobs unfilled in Ontario by 2025.”
The pilot program was developed in collaboration with County of Brant Economic Development and Tourism, South Central Ontario Region Economic Development Corporation and the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie, and supported by Libro Credit Union, to expand training opportunities for current farm sector employees and better prepare those interested in careers in agriculture to work on farms in key areas.
“Addressing local and regional workforce needs through career-focused education and training programs is really at the heart and foundation of polytechnic education,” said Conestoga President John Tibbits. “We’ve been very pleased to work with our partners in Brantford-Brant to launch the Agricultural Equipment Operator program that will fill a critical need in the local workforce.”
In October, the governments of Canada and Ontario announced a commitment of more than $180,000 through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership for the development of the new Agricultural Equipment Operator pilot program at Conestoga. The project is part of an overall investment of more than $750,000 by the governments to help primary agriculture, food processing companies and food retailers recruit and train workers critical to keeping the province’s essential food supply functioning.
The next intake to the Agricultural Equipment Operator program will be offered in January 2022.
The completion ceremony video presentation is available online.
Conestoga is a provincial leader in the delivery of skills and apprenticeship training to serve industry needs and the growing community. Comprehensive programming includes a wide range of post-secondary programs that provide pathways to employment. Visit the School of Trades & Apprenticeship for more information.