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Wolf Administration Highlights Ag Apprenticeships Providing Hands-on, Paid Training for Jobs in Demand Among Pennsylvania Employers

11/09/2020

Harrisburg, PA - Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Labor & Industry Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development Sheila Ireland will host a live panel discussion today on agriculture job training options through Pennsylvania’s three agriculture apprenticeship programs. The discussion will be livestreamed on the Department of Agriculture’s Facebook page today at 2:00 PM.

“Pennsylvania’s $135 billion agriculture and food industry needs 75,000 skilled workers over the next decade,” Redding said. “The jobs are real, and an apprenticeship removes one barrier for jobseekers by allowing them to earn as they learn. The hope is that apprentices will continue to grow in the field and move up the ladder to other in-demand jobs.”

The virtual panel is being held in recognition of the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Apprenticeship Week, November 8-14, to share this unique way Pennsylvanians can acquire the career skills that employers seek.

“The COVID-19 pandemic caused rapid changes to our economy and workforce needs. Apprenticeships are a key tool that we need to use to rebuild our workforce to accommodate these changes,” Ireland said. “Apprenticeships allow Pennsylvanians to earn while they learn, helping them earn a paycheck while making a career change that will benefit their family for the long term. And, apprenticeships help businesses get the specialized workers they need to grow and succeed. We encourage any business interested in exploring an apprenticeship program to reach out to us for more information on this great opportunity.”

While apprenticeships have been common in trades such as plumber, electrician and carpenter, the model of learning specialized skills on the job from industry experts fits other career paths. It is an especially good fit for some agricultural jobs which do not require a college degree but are hands on and require unique skills. These are jobs with family-sustaining wages such as meat cutter, landscaper, logger or traditional farmer.   

The food production and agriculture industry projects a need for 75,000 qualified workers over the next 10 years and apprenticeships are a good way to prepare a new workforce to fill those jobs. With a perpetual need for food, we will always need more agriculture workers.

Employers play a vital role in apprenticeships by sponsoring programs and teaching participants career skills.  

The departments of Agriculture and Labor & Industry are working with Pennsylvania employers to develop agriculture-related apprenticeships and would welcome discussing other proposed programs with employers.

Pennsylvania’s three current agriculture apprenticeships are:

·         Northeast Equipment Dealerships Association sponsors the Ag Equipment Technician Apprenticeship. In this program, participants learn how to repair today’s complex farm equipment such as tractors and combines. In the next 10 years Pennsylvania employers predict more than 1,000 job openings in this field as current farm equipment mechanics and service technicians retire.

·         Pasa Sustainable Agriculture sponsors the Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship, which trains apprentices in core competencies to operate a vegetable farm, from soil fertility and irrigation, to marketing and business administration. Apprentices receive more than 2,700 hours of on-the-job training at an established farm and complete more than 200 hours of related technical instruction over the course of two seasons. Apprentices are paid an increasing hourly wage as their skills advance. The program teaches new farmers while providing teaching farms with reliable workers.

·         The Pasa-sponsored Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship is a two-year program that pairs beginning farmers with mentors to provide experiences and skills toward operating a pastured dairy farm. The Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship combines paid, on-the-job training with related technical coursework.


Employers and job seekers may learn more about apprenticeships online at https://www.dli.pa.gov/Individuals/Workforce-Development/apprenticeship/Pages/default.aspx

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers, Agriculture - shpowers@pa.gov

Sarah DeSantis, L&I- sdesantis@pa.gov

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