Canadian Manufacturing

Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s mfg. program graduates find careers with Bourgault Industries, Ltd.

by CM Staff   

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A surprising number have started their careers in the small town or area surrounding St. Brieux, Saskatchewan, where agricultural equipment manufacturer Bourgault Industries houses its main facility.

Image Credit: Bourgault Industries, Ltd.

When instructors for Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Innovative Manufacturing program read an article in a national magazine back in 2021 about international students facing challenges in Canada, they say it gave them pause for thought. The program had recently opened its first intake for international students and uptake from non-domestic applicants for the two-year diploma had been strong.

“Meeting the needs of our international students is important to Sask Polytech,” says Brenda Suru, dean for the Nutrien School of Mining, Manufacturing and Engineering Technologies, “but first and foremost, we work to develop our programs in collaboration and consultation with industry. That way, we ensure we are training the right number of students—whether domestic or international—to meet industry needs.”

“Our decision to open the program to international students was well considered,” agrees academic chair Grant Paul, who notes that there are excellent job prospects for graduates both in the province and beyond. Since it was the first time international students had been admitted to the program, faculty reached out to the most recent group of graduates to ask about their experiences. Says Paul, “We asked, ‘Was their transition successful? Were they finding jobs in their field?’ It was validating to hear that these students are out in the workforce and thriving, many of them right here in Saskatchewan.”

International graduates from the program have gone on to a variety of opportunities—some straight to industry, a few choosing to progress to further their education in engineering here in Canada or at home. A surprising number have started their careers in the small town or area surrounding St. Brieux, Saskatchewan, where agricultural equipment manufacturer Bourgault Industries houses its main facility.


Bourgault hired its first Innovative Manufacturing graduate, a local from Humboldt, in 2020. The company says they were so impressed with his skills and job readiness that they contacted the program to say they would welcome more applicants. Instructors passed along the message to the 2021 class and that spring, Bourgault hired nine graduating students—all of them international. The following year saw another three international graduates go to Bourgault. “I think they would have taken more,” says Paul, “but most students had jobs already lined up.”

One of these hires from the first group, Kishan Patel, relocated from Regina to Melfort, where he lived for his first year working with Bourgault. “I then moved to St. Brieux,” says Patel, who worked for a second year with Bourgault, gaining experience that would eventually see him hired as a drafting technologist at an environmental services company based in Regina. “Innovative Manufacturing taught me about both design and manufacturing. It’s practical as well as theory based, so I had a lot of hands-on experience that I was then able to build on in my position at Bourgault.”

Kelsey Doepker, who works in Bourgault’s human resources department, has been nurturing the relationship that is acting as a win-win for the business and the graduates they hire. “The program invited us to come and present to the 2022 class,” she explains. “St. Brieux is 280 km from Regina, which can make recruitment a challenge. We’re willing to go the extra mile to support our international hires to gain their permanent residency and that’s meaningful enough that they are willing to move outside the bigger urban centres like Regina or Saskatoon.”

Bourgault manufactures its machinery from start to finish, producing all parts that go into their air hoe drills, seeders, fertilizer applicators and other specialized agricultural equipment. “Most of our new hires start in fabrication where parts are created,” says Doepker. “Innovative manufacturing grads come equipped to operate our laser cutters, bending machines, lathes, punches and other tools. A few of our new hires started as machinists. There’s a design element to innovative manufacturing as well and some have progressed to this type of position.”


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