First Apprenticeship for Vegetable Growers in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Governor Tom Wolf announces the first apprenticeship for vegetable growers in the Mid-Atlantic region which will prepare workers for new agriculture jobs in the Montgomery County region.

“Agriculture is tremendously important to Pennsylvania and apprenticeships like this help workers get the skills for good jobs so the industry can grow and thrive,” said Governor Wolf. “I’m proud that Pennsylvania has the first registered apprenticeship for vegetable growers in the Mid-Atlantic region. The hands-on training will help people learn about the tools and technology used on a working farm.”

Apprenticeships are part of Governor Tom Wolf’s PAsmart initiative, which invests in job training and science and technology education. Governor Wolf wants Pennsylvania to have the strongest workforce in the nation. The innovative PAsmart program is investing in high-growth careers with $20 million for science and technology education, $10 million for apprenticeships and job training, and new this year, an additional $10 million for career and technical education.

Later today, the departments of Labor & Industry (L&I) and Agriculture will join the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) on a tour of The Good Farm in Germansville and discuss the benefits of the vegetable growers apprenticeship.

“Apprenticeships give Pennsylvanians the opportunity to build a rewarding career and earn a good wage,” said Eileen Cipriani, Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development, Department of Labor & Industry. “This new program will provide apprentices with the hands-on experience they need in the agricultural industry, while simultaneously helping Pennsylvania’s farmers to connect with the motivated, trained employees they need.”

“Pennsylvania’s agricultural employers need a skilled, nimble workforce that can quickly adapt to changing technology and food safety innovations,” said Scott Sheely, Special Assistant for Workforce Development, Department of Agriculture. “This apprenticeship is an investment in building that workforce, and ensuring the quality and safety of Pennsylvania-grown products.”

The vegetable grower apprenticeship program was approved by L&I’s Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO). Sponsored by PASA, the program will provide on-the-job training and hands-on opportunities for apprentices to develop their skills in the greenhouse production areas, the wash and pack facilities, and the farm production fields. The Diversified Vegetable apprenticeship is the first accredited apprenticeship for vegetable growers in the Mid-Atlantic region, offering aspiring growers paid training and extensive related coursework while meeting the employment needs of the established farmers who host apprentices. PASA also currently sponsors a Dairy Grazing apprenticeship program, the first formally accredited agricultural apprenticeship program in the United States.

“Apprenticeships in agriculture are one of the oldest traditions in career training; however, they have often lacked the support and rigor of a formal apprenticeship model,” said PASA Diversified Vegetable Apprenticeship (DVA) Program Coordinator Dan Dalton. “The DVA and the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship help to ensure that apprentices receive the training and support they need to pursue a career in agriculture.”

PASA is a Pennsylvania-based sustainable agriculture association founded in 1992. They work to build a more economically-just, environmentally-regenerative, and community-focused food system through education and research that directly supports farmers. The Good Farm is a certified organic farm raising vegetables, berries, flowers, and herbs for over 200 “farm share” members. Farmers John and Aimee Good believe that the future of sustainable agriculture is dependent on education and the exchange of information, and most importantly, the training of future farmers. John and Aimee are committed to training apprentices in all aspects of vegetable production and marketing, as well as business management, and have had several apprentices go on to start farms of their own.

The Wolf Administration created the ATO in 2016. Since then, the office has registered 156 new program sponsors and 225 new apprenticeship programs or occupations, bringing the total number of registered apprentices to 18,187 statewide.

Apprenticeship programs approved by the ATO provide employer-driven training to create a more productive, highly-skilled workforce for employers and help reduce employee turnover. The program provides job seekers with increased skills, and a nationally recognized credential to support future career advancement and increased wages.