Show me the money: why agribusinesses need to cough up to attract top talent.

If you’re in agribusiness you will know how difficult it is to attract well-qualified employees, particularly if you are in a regional or remote area.

Asia’s rising middle class, with its increased demand for food and agricultural products and services over the next 50 years, will make attracting the best and brightest even more competitive – especially if remuneration continues on its current path.

Agribusiness wages growth lags behind average wage

Wages growth in the food and agriculture sector have lagged well behind average wages, according to our 2015 Salary & Trend Report.

The report concludes that this is partly due to the highly variable nature of agricultural production and the more recent strong Australian dollar.

Droughts were also prevalent over the period from 1995 to 2009, which placed sever strains on all agribusiness operations

Nevertheless, we believe remuneration will be a key battleground in the future in attracting and retaining employees.

So which parts of the agribusiness sector are worst affected by wages lag and how do they need to grow to compete with other industries?

Farm Managers

The salaries of farm managers with a degree or diploma (and more than five years of experience in a specific farm type) have performed the worst in the agribusiness sector over past 20 years, increasing by 36.5% from from $55,000 to $75,000.

Over the same time average Australian wages have increased by 125.7% – from $34,018 to $76,768.

Product Managers

Product managers have not done much better than farm managers.

According to our 2015 Salary and Trend Report, a product manager with a university qualification and five years experience has seen their wages grow from $56,000 in 1995 to $80-90,000 now, an increase of 42.9%.

This represents less than one third of the growth of the average Australian wage.

Sales Reps and Technical Managers

Wages for sales reps and technical managers have fared slightly better, but remuneration for both still grew at roughly the half the rate of the average wage over the past 20 years.

Agricultural Appointments’ figures show that Sales Reps with a tertiary qualification and 5 years experience grew on average from $43,000 in 1995 to $85,000 in 2015 (that’s a increase of 62.8% versus 125.7% increase in average wages.)

Technical Managers’ salaries grew from an average of $67,000 in 1995 to $110,000 in 2015, a growth of 64.2%.

Technical Sales Reps and Quality Assurance Managers

The increase in these employees’ salaries in the past two decades reflects the second tier that has developed in the agribusiness sector, with more rapid salary growth in the higher technical areas.

According to our report, these jobs are becoming more highly valued as agribusiness and agrifood industries strive to present strong technical arguments and services to their increasingly sophisticated customer base.

The report shows that Technical Sales Reps’ salaries have grown from $42,000 in 1995 to $85,000 in 2015, an increase of 102.4%.

Quality Assurance Managers’ salaries have grown from an average of $46,000 in 1995 to $95,000 in 2015, an increase of 106.5%.

Agronomists

Agronomists with an agronomy (or similar) degree have seen the biggest wages growth over the past 20 years, outstripping average wage growth (150% v 125.7%).

This reflects both the increased technical requirements for these roles and also the substantial skills shortages relative to the number of available roles,” the report says. “This is due to the ongoing decline in the number of agricultural science graduates from Australian universities.”

To find out more about the trends in the agribusiness sector in Australia, including remuneration, download this free eBook, “2015 Salary and Trend Report”.