Okanagan College has partnered with the provincial government to expand the skills of farm workers.
The Horticulture Upskill Program has completed its first two runs in English and will be doing another one for Spanish-speaking workers beginning in February.
Farm workers enrolled in the pilot program receive training in areas like first aid, tractor repair, small engine repair, forklift operation and pesticide management. The courses are available to anyone employed in the B.C. tree fruit or wine grape industries and are held at the college’s Kelowna campus.
Courses are scheduled in the afternoon, evening and on weekends, allowing workers to take the month-long training while continuing to work.
“The Horticulture Upskill Program is preparing domestic and foreign workers to make an immediate impact in supporting the families and people working hard in B.C.’s orchards and vineyards,” B.C. Minister of Agriculture and Food Pam Alexis said in a press release. “By partnering with Okanagan College, we’re increasing the number of skilled farm workers in B.C., which will benefit our communities and local economies.”
It is the first program of its kind in the province, as Okanagan College is becoming the base for industry training. In February the provincial government announced a $44.8 million investment to fund the construction of a new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism on the college’s Kelowna campus.
More information about the Horticulture Upskill Program can be found here.