While the number of students graduating from agricultural science courses continues to decline, and those who do graduate, aren’t necessarily going on to work on farms, I think they’re missing out on big opportunities.
What roles do you hear of all the time? You hear about urban-based roles – so students don’t know about the great careers that exist in agriculture. Our recent survey results reflect some of that problem.
In an Agricultural Appointments survey of agricultural science graduates and soon-to-be graduates, insights about career aspirations were revealed. 81 students who were enrolled in agricultural science at one of the major universities in Australia were asked a series of questions such as whether they intend to pursue a career in agriculture and what field of work they were intending to pursue.
Part of the problem is that we are an urbanised population, so there is no real agricultural communication into schools, and accordingly school leavers are not interested in agriculture as a career; it’s as simple as that.
That said, there are particular pockets of skills shortages in Australia. For example, there are very big shortages in terms of agronomists and in technical animal science people. What is not evident from knowing the total number of agricultural science graduates, is what sector they end up in, so it is difficult to know if in time students will fulfil the demand for skills where they are most needed.
Higher education is also off the agenda. The number of agricultural science graduates going on to higher degrees continues to decline. It’s probably that research and development opportunities at universities in general have declined but I also think people are seeing that the higher degrees are not necessary; they want to get out into the workforce.
For more information about the key trends and talent landscape in the AgriFood industry, download our free report.