Technician program increase responds to industry demand

April 9, 2014 — In response to industry demand, the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology will double the number of seats in its Agricultural Machinery Technician (AMT) certificate program next year, bringing capacity to 24.

Dealers across Saskatchewan report a significant shortage of technicians, exacerbated by a retirement rate of approximately 8% annually.

“I would like to commend SIAST on responding to industry demand by doubling the number of Agricultural Machinery Technician training seats,” said Hon. Rob Norris, Minister of Advanced Education. “As part of the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth, our government wants to ensure our post-secondary students are receiving the training needed to find careers in our growing labor market. This training expansion is just another example of how we are linking learning to earning.”

“We have a large agricultural base in Saskatchewan,” said Dennis Johnson, dean of SIAST’s Industrial Training Division. “We know the SIAST AMT program is critical to this industry. The current shortage of AMT technicians can make it very difficult for farmers to get their equipment fixed and continue working in the field.” 

The one-year increase in the number of AMT seats will go into effect in August, so grads will be ready for the workplace by next year’s harvest. Students in the 35-week program learn how to diagnose and repair agricultural machinery, including electrical systems, motors and hydraulics. Graduates find employment in such fields as equipment service, custom combining, mining and construction.

“Our dealer members throughout the province and western Canada have seen substantial growth in their businesses — as agriculture is doing well,” said Cameron Bode, president of Canada West Equipment Dealers Assn. “We believe that this is a great day for our industry in the province  as securing the properly trained employees needed to assist in this growth has been a challenge for our equipment dealer members, with the most critical need being the shortage of our agricultural machinery technicians.”

SIAST is Saskatchewan’s primary public institution for post-secondary technical education and skills training, recognized nationally and internationally for its expertise and innovation. Through program and course registrations, SIAST serves 26,000 distinct students with programs that touch every sector of the economy. SIAST operates campuses in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon, and provides a number of courses and programs through distance education.