Assiniboine Community College (ACC) has announced a new partnership with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) to deliver a tuition-free Agriculture Equipment Operator program.

The 14-week program starts February 2022 at the college’s North Hill campus in Brandon and is open to Indigenous people living off-reserve.

“This partnership is an important step in helping to meet an industry need and in providing learners, who may otherwise not have had the opportunity, with a chance to enrol in a program that offers a gateway to great job potential,” said Kevin Poirier, Dean, School of Trades at Assiniboine. “I’m pleased to welcome the support of CAP to help ensure that there are trained people who can step into areas of need so that the growing agricultural sector can reach its full potential.”

The program, funded by CAP, will provide a foundation for students who wish to pursue careers in the agricultural sector focused on primary production.

“The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples’ Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) Program is a proud sponsor of Assiniboine’s Agricultural Equipment Operator (AEO) Program. A key objective of the ISET program is to provide skills training to off-reserve Indigenous people that address gaps in the labour market,” said Sarah Mitchell, National Project Coordinator with CAP. “Projected labour market shortages in this sector overall are significant, and CAP is happy to support an industry that is in need of skilled workers. CAP wishes every client in the AEO program the best of luck and a long and fulfilling career!”

The program begins with a one-week preparatory course and ends with an 80-hour paid work placement.

Students will learn safe farming practices and the operational skills necessary to manage multiple enterprises.

“Producers across Manitoba are facing serious labour challenges and struggle to hire employees with the necessary skills to work on a farm,” said Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) president Bill Campbell. “The Agricultural Equipment Operator program will train participants with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. KAP was pleased to help develop the program and provide industry input to align the curriculum with agricultural labour needs.”

Students will take part in the regular tours, workshops, and events held by nearby commercial operations and graduate with an industry-recognized credential.

“Removing the cost of training, a significant obstacle to employment, allows students to gain the skills and knowledge required for entry into the job market, without worrying about funding,” said Assiniboine’s Director, Indigenous Education, Kris Desjarlais. “With this, learners are free to focus on their training in this hands-on learning environment.”

The program has capacity for 15 students.

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