Is an apprentice or employee a better fit for your farm?

Posted by Dana Penrice on September 06, 2023

Having an apprentice can be a rewarding experience, but it isn’t for everyone.

Knowing your goals and your farm systems can tell you if an apprentice or an employee is a better fit for you. The skills needed for you to manage a paid apprenticeship or an employee often overlap,  since in both cases there is a labour and learning component. However, the difference is the emphasis.  You might not fit 100% into one side of this checklist or the other, but it should help you to reflect on what might be best for you.

You might be looking for an apprentice if:You might be looking for an employee if:
  • You are willing to teach someone to back up a trailer, ride an ATV or run a tractor
  • You want to hire someone with some experience backing up a trailer, riding ATVs or operating a tractor
  • You are excited to spend time showing people different plants or how to set up an electric fence.
  • You want someone who knows the difference between a weed and a vegetable or who knows how to set up an electric fence.
  • You like helping people on their learning journey and finding their passions
  • Your investment in your employee is specifically for your business
  • You think about your apprentice running their own farm in the future
  • You want employee to gain specific skills for your farm
  • You have patience for people’s learning curve and you’re okay with someone being green (everyone starts somewhere!)
  • You are looking for seasoned staff who bring skills
  • You might like working on a skills checklist that has learning objectives
  • You might use a work plan with task lists that have deliverables
  • You’re open to people trying different approaches and everything not being perfectly efficient
  • You have your systems set up and employees need to follow the system
  • You are on the farm daily and available the majority of the time to answer questions
  • You expect someone to eventually work on their own after they have been trained

If it seems like you are looking to host an apprentice, you may be interested in the Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Program (YAAP)!  We are looking for Host Farm Mentors in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.



Important dates:

Host Farm applications open on September 11, 2023

Apprenticeship applications open on December 6, 2023

For more information, reach out to a member of our Apprenticeship team.

Marsha Shack, YA Alberta & British Columbia Apprenticeship Coordinator

Alieka Beckett, YA SK Apprenticeship Coordinator                                                                                      Email:

Sara Yagelniski, YA MB Apprenticeship Coordinator

Photo Credit: Mich Lam