Agriculture apprenticeships provide affordable path to Food and Ag industries | Business


Harrisburg, PA – In Centre County, Suzie Birchfield joined the Butcher Apprenticeship Program when she realized she needed a brand new profession. Raised on a poultry farm in Juniata County, Suzie pursued post-secondary training and taught elementary college, however a profession in meat processing was at all times on her thoughts.

When COVID-19 hit, she realized it was a possibility to change careers and be a part of an trade in want of expert staff. She enrolled in Penn State’s Meats Lab’s Butcher Apprenticeship. Today, she is the primary feminine to work on the processing flooring at Peachy Foods in Belleville, Pa. with aspirations to in the future personal her store.   

Including the Centre County program, Pennsylvania has seven state-certified agriculture apprenticeship applications and two pre-apprenticeships. During a tour, State Agricultural Secretary Russell Reading honored these applications and National Apprenticeship Week, which befell final week. 

“Pennsylvania’s agricultural workforce is vital to guaranteeing meals goes from farm gate to the dinner plate. As we hit the street for National Apprenticeship Week, we’re reminded how expert agricultural labor is important for the performance of our meals system at each step of the availability chain,” mentioned Redding. “Apprenticeship applications are coaching the following technology of meals and agriculture staff for in-demand, aggressive jobs.”

Pennsylvania has lengthy confronted an agricultural workforce scarcity, particularly in farming and technology-based roles. Apprentices are the way forward for the trade. Through paid, hands-on coaching, apprentices earn affordable skillsets that provide a pathway to significant, good paying jobs that help the soundness of our meals provide.”

Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture trade fuels greater than 593,000 jobs throughout the commonwealth, paying practically $33 billion in wages annually, in accordance to a launch from the Secretary’s workplace. Over the following decade, agriculture is predicted to face a workforce scarcity with the retire of farmers and laborers and the rise of know-how jobs.

To help the expansion of the meals and agriculture workforce, the state launched the PAsmart initiative, investing $30 million in job coaching and science and know-how training. The Governor’s initiative helps Registered Apprenticeship, Pre-Apprenticeship, and Apprenticeship Ambassador Network Grants to help colleges, college students, staff and companies throughout the commonwealth develop expert staff for in-demand jobs.

“Pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships each provide a useful service to our native and statewide workforces, pairing classroom instruction with on-the-job abilities coaching and the possibility to earn when you be taught,” mentioned Secretary of Labor & Industry Jennifer Berrier. “L&I estimates that just about 9 out of 10 apprentices are employed after they full their apprenticeship, and the bulk take jobs with a beginning wage of $60,000 a 12 months or extra. Apprenticeships additionally permit Pennsylvanians to graduate with little to no scholar debt and the flexibility to construct a rapport immediately with an employer earlier than they even graduate.”

According to the discharge, National Apprenticeship Week is a nationwide celebration bringing collectively trade, labor, fairness, workforce, training and authorities leaders to showcase the successes and worth of Registered Apprenticeship applications in creating a talented workforce and strengthening the economic system. National Apprenticeship Week was Nov. 15-21, 2021.

To be taught extra about agriculture apprenticeship applications and workforce growth initiatives, go to

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