Australia must address skills gap to capture the golden age of farming.

Disruption comes to agribusiness! And according to our most recent report, the 2016 Agrifood Talent Report, new technology, changing business structures and new ways of marketing are opening up a skills gap that could actually hurt Australia’s agricultural competitiveness.

Agricultural Appointments, Managing Director, Dr Ray Johnson, says the 2016 Agrifood Talent Report highlights a trend toward niche production of differentiated products, large-scale production as well as a new wave of digital technology, adoption of new business structures and innovative marketing by farmers.

“We are seeing a shift away from the traditional way of doing things to ways that require new skills and knowledge,”

“Tomorrow’s farmer won’t just focus on driving the tractor, they’ll also be confident in the use of technology such as UAVs and remote data capture, to choose production that’s most profitable, produce a specialty product and be acutely aware of consumer demands,” Dr Johnson says.

To produce the report, Agricultural Appointments spoke with industry experts about emerging trends in the industry.

“There were clear themes that emerged. Everyone spoke of the advancement in digital technology, marketing, entrepreneurship, and consumer insights as the forces that will drive the industry forward,” Dr Johnson says.

In our profile article on the reinvention of three Australian agribusinesses, we chart the way changes are bringing with them a need for new skills, especially in management, leadership and marketing. Unfortunately, many mid-sized farmers and food producers lack skills in these critical areas.

However, where will the capacity to adapt and reinvent businesses come from? As we outline in our article on Gen Y: We want them, but do they want us?, attracting these new skills to the business in the form of new graduates may be ideal, but it’s also harder than it looks.

That’s because of the well-known decline in those embarking on agri-related further education, but also the work preferences of those who do graduate, as revealed by our 2015 survey of graduate intentions.

However, one thing that agribusinesses can do, is appeal to emerging graduates by better understanding their needs and tailoring their recruitment and career development programs to suit.

In addition, businesses may train and develop existing staff to help create business reinvention. To do this effectively however, demands skills analysis and a human resources plan. In that, we’d be delighted to help.

“Employees will always be the greatest asset to a business, particularly as we move to smaller and highly skilled workforces.”

Business reinvention will require help to identify the skills gap, develop training programs and facilitate the development of existing staff.

With the right skills and business model the future of agriculture is bright in Australia.

“It’s an exciting time for the industry, and as recruiters and HR consultants, we look forward to helping clients as they reposition for the future,” Dr Johnson said.

For more information about the key trends and talent landscape in the AgriFood industry, download our free report.