Ag college focuses on tech, international students to boost enrolment

In agriculture, whether it’s the proverbial chief, cook, or bottle washer, there’s likely a job vacancy waiting to be filled. As an industry, there’s a finite number of farm kids to fill jobs in the agriculture field. New talent and ingenuity are going to have to come from outside the existing farm and rural bubble.

For those interested in a career in agriculture, colleges and university programs play a crucial role in preparing for the workforce. In turn, post-secondary institutions have the challenge of meeting the needs of a rapidly advancing industry with an incredibly diverse range of job opportunities.

Tim Hore, dean of agriculture and the environment at Assiniboine Community College (ACC) at Brandon, Man., says that part of tackling that challenge is focusing not just on technical skills but also on fostering a love of continuous, life-long learning.

It’s definitely a challenge to look 10, 15, or 20 years ahead and anticipate what technical skills or knowledge will be required, Hore says. Still, program adaptation and offering one-year diplomas are key to meeting needs and staying current. For ACC’s agriculture programming, that has meant a split from the business faculty, moving some courses to one-year vs. two, and pulling civil technology and communication technology under the agriculture banner.

The school has also been incredibly successful at attracting non-farm kids and international students, and that’s by design. Hore says that the school has been actively recruiting international students for enrolment with great success.

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