More than two dozen Parkland College students are poised to enter the workforce in the agriculture and agri-business industries upon completion of a unique pilot program being delivered on the Keeseekoose First Nation near Kamsack.
On March 9, the students wrap up a nine-week “Introduction to Agriculture” training course – a partnership between Parkland College, Lakeland College, Keeseekoose First Nation, and Inroads to Agriculture, which is funded through the Government of Canada and the Province of Saskatchewan. The program is designed to prepare First Nations students for entry level employment in the agriculture and agri-business sectors in the Yorkton-Kamsack area.
Course participants have spent the last two months learning the basics of farming with local farmers and agri-business operators as their instructors.
They’re now ready to graduate from the course, armed with fresh knowledge about everything from plant and soil science to fertility management to tillage and direct seeding.
To help the graduates get started on their career path, they will meet with numerous local employers during an interview fair on the morning of March 6 at the Keeseekoose hall. The goal is to have the students enter the workforce at local farm operations, grain handling facilities, specialized agriculture operations, farm supply businesses, or farm support retailers.
“These adults have a strong desire to learn and are anxious to start a career in agriculture,” said Darrell Landels, Parkland College’s Manager of Trades, Industrial & Agriculture. “A lot of local businesses in this area are having challenges finding people with the right qualifications to fill open jobs. Also, a lot of First Nations people on reserves or in nearby communities are looking to fill the jobs that are available in the local labour market. Strategies like the Intro to Ag program go a long way to help solve both concerns.”
Parkland College offers the largest off-campus university program in Saskatchewan, as well as an array of educational programs and services to adult learners including SIAST and Institute programs, Industry programs, Adult Basic Education, Literacy, English as an Additional Language and Career and Student Services.