Canada West Equipment Dealers Association put in $57,000 to add 14 more spots to program

The labour shortage in Saskatchewan means that there is more work than qualified workers.

The Canada West Equipment Dealers Association (CWEDA) recognized that many of their dealerships did not have enough machinery technicians.

They decided to contribute $57,000 to cover half the costs of expanding SIAST's (Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology) Agricultural Machinery Technician certificate program.

"The fact that the industry does step forward ... is a sign that they recognize a need and that they have a stake in it," said Minister of Advanced Education Don Morgan.

"We know that we have a need now."

The industry already contributes to the Agricultural Machinery Technician (AMT) program by lending over $2.5 million in new and used equipment including tractors, combines, hay and forage equipment.

"For the past number of years agricultural equipment dealers in western Canada have experienced challenges in finding properly trained employees," said Cam Kay, CWEDA president.

"The need for more agricultural mechanics is one of the most critical issues facing our industry."

The investment and expansion will add an additional 14 students to the program, doubling the program's enrolment.

"I applied in February or March and right away I was told I would be put on the wait list," said Brett McCorkell.

"I got a call about a month ago saying I was now accepted."

For McCorkell who grew up on a farm, the new spots will help him reach his dream of contributing to the province's farming communities.

"It was exciting ... being able to start a year early means I get to be started in the industry a year earlier and become a journeyman a year earlier," he said.

The other funds needed for the spots will be covered by tuition and the Government of Saskatchewan.