Montana’s ag world embraces apprenticeships |

Montana’s ag world embraces apprenticeships

HELENA, Mont.-As businesses across Montana continue to use apprenticeships to build their workforces, one local Havre farm is using this time-honored training model to teach organic farming operations.

Vilicus Farms recently launched two new apprenticeship programs in collaboration with the Montana Registered Apprenticeship program which is administered by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry.

The Agrarian Immersion Experience apprenticeship is an intensive, immersive day-to-day program focusing on the day-to-day operations organic farming operations. This eight month apprenticeship is offered through a partnership with the Quivira Coalition.

The second apprenticeship is a structured 2-year paid occupational training in dryland organic farming operations. Once graduates complete their 4,000 of on-the-job training and 288 hours of related instruction, they will receive an industry recognized credential.

“This apprenticeship is a great opportunity for folks interested in gaining some real work experience with organic farming,” said Montana Department of Agriculture Director Ron de Yong. “One of the biggest challenges facing many farmers today is a dwindling workforce, so it is great to see efforts like this that aim to address that shortfall.”

Apprenticeships continue to be a driver for businesses to teach employees hard and soft industry skills, while also providing a paycheck while they learn.

“With over 1,000 business sponsors and 7,000 apprentices overseen by the Montana Registered Apprenticeship unit, more and more industries are finding the value of work-based learning,” said Labor & Industry Commissioner Pam Bucy. “Businesses are finding this an important tool for training the highly-skilled workers they need to grow their operations.”

Montana Registered Apprenticeship is an employer designed training program for both union and non-union employers. Training consists of not less than 2000 hours (1 year) of On-the-Job Training (OJT), and not less than 144 hours of related college level coursework per 2,000 hours of OJT. This training is designed to teach specific and technical job skills unique to the employer’s profession. Formal registered apprenticeship completion can be the basis for professional licensing, or confer journeyman status in their chosen field. A Montana Registered Apprenticeship program completion certificate, like any diploma, is recognized in all 50 states.

–Montana Department of Agriculture