Attracting new talent to the ag sector

Agriculture is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia. As we approach 2050, we can expect to see significant advances in both technology and practice as the industry races to satisfy the needs of a growing population in the midst of global climate change. With technological advances continually changing how ag producers operate, the industry is poised to become one of the most diverse and exciting in Australia, employing over 250,000 people, which is more than any other industry in Australia. It is therefore concerning that across the 17 universities offering agricultural studies nationwide, just 23 students per university are predicted to graduate with a degree in agriculture each year.

So why does this interesting and innovative industry struggle to attract interest?

One reason is that aside from drought, flood, fire and livestock ethics, Australian agriculture doesn’t get a lot of mainstream media attention. This has perpetuated a stereotype of struggling farmers, natural disasters and animal cruelty. Another possible reason could be the perception that in order to work in the agricultural industry, one must be a farmer. In reality, agriculture is one of the most diverse industries in the world, with careers available in policy, education, research, entrepreneurship, technology and many more.

With more than double the number of graduates coming from Australia’s urban areas compared to rural areas, these misconceptions may dissuade graduates from pursuing a career in agriculture. If this is the case, the communication between agriculture and Australia’s youth needs to be improved. Social media in particular is a powerful to communicate with students and illustrate the exciting lifestyles and opportunities that agriculture has to offer. Sandy Brock’s “Sheepishly Me” Instagram and YouTube profiles do this brilliantly by demonstrating the positives of a life in agriculture, as well as showcasing some of the innovative technologies used on her farm. “Facetime a Farmer” is another excellent example of how tech can create communication opportunities between farmers and students.

As agriculture continues to grow, innovation and creativity is needed not just to enhance the technology, but to attract new blood into an essential industry.

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