Larry Hertz from Western Equipment Dealers Association in Calgary, one of the men to develop a program running across Saskatchewan. "We are the association that looks after all the equipment dealers from Texas, Oklahoma, to Carlyle Saskatchewan."
The new program an Agriculture Equipment Technician (AET) elective has been developed, "We work with Sask Poly-tech out of Saskatoon, and the Sun-west Distance Learning out of Kenaston. We developed a program for Ag Technician positions in the province, in order to take that profession or that trade out to high school students and get them engaged in the program. And its been very successful so far."
"What were launching this year, the program is for grade 11 students, its a local 20 program and its available to high schools across the province and we were hoping within this first year, we would get 25 or 30 students. But we were fortunate to have 113 enrolled, that will start the program in November." There will be 50 hours of on-line classes taught from a central location at the Sun West Distance Learning Centre in Kenaston. Students will receive 40 hours of practical work study at an agriculture dealership between November and March. The students will be shadowing one of the existing journey people learning what the trade is all about.
The Western Equipment Dealers Association has helped establish the curriculum with a long term goal of attracting more young people to the profession. Hertz adds, "The trades are also very well paid, I like to think of them as gold collar not blue collar. and a lot of our farm equipment dealers have great farm customers, they have a great business going on and they need to recruit technicians, parts counter people, and sales people for their dealership. So were really trying to make the technician trade more visible out there. And in addition to that make the opportunities at dealerships a lot more prevalent."
"There is a current shortage of one to two agriculture equipment technicians in nearly every dealer location across Saskatchewan,” says Larry Hertz, vice-president of the Western Equipment Dealers Association. “Creating awareness of the need for technicians along with the vast number of good paying stable career opportunities at our dealerships is our goal.” The program will be offered in all areas of the province.