Practical Knowledge Leads to Good Jobs

Practical Knowledge Leads to Good Jobs

July 24, 2013

Growing Demand for Ag Students

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Clint Cowden, an instructor at West Hills Community College in Coalinga, knows about the demand for specific jobs in agriculture.

A special program for training future Pest Control Advisors (PCAs) and Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) is available at West Hills.

"Many of the large growers in our area came in and asked if we had students available who could help them on their operations. They were looking for on-the-farm PCAs and CCAs on the private side,” said Cowden. “They are also looking for welders, irrigation managers, and equipment operators."

“In fact, PG&E has stated that they will need up to 5,000 welders over the next five years,” Cowden stated. “We have students coming in and training for this demand.”

Students get the text-book training along with practical hands-on experience in many areas in agriculture. “Students complete the programs with certificates stating that they meet all the rigorous demands that businesses will need,” Cowden said. “Our students typically get an average of 20 separate certificates that are backed by national professional associations and many industries.”

“Instead of the college professors teaching kids what they think they should learn, the industry got together and stated the true skills that students need to succeed in those industries,” Cowden said. “We want our students to clearly have the skills they need to succeed, and the certificates will state what skills they have,” he said.

Students earn an Associates Degree in Ag Science and Technology, and the credits are transferable to other colleges and universities such as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, UC Davis, California State University Fresno, or others.

Cowden noted that the PCA/CCA program is taught with on-line lectures and face-to-face nine-hour labs across three weekends. “This enables students to stay employed where they are and work around their job to earn the new skills,” he said.

An update on the Bachelors Degree requirement for a PCA license:  “It’s known as Option 3 and approved by the Department of Pesticide Regulation. The requirement is 42 Science Units over 24 months, and the students can take the required PCA exam for a license. For the CCA license, five years of experience is required.

The next PCA/CCA class starts on August 19.