Young people who work in the agriculture sector love what they do, they are proud of what they do and they want to inspire other your people to join them.
Getting that message out there has been traditionally tricky and inspired many Nuffield Scholar research projects. I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of scholars from both UK and Canada touring the world looking for initiatives that are kicking goals in this area.
Canadian Scholar Beck Parker has just published her report Inspiring Gen Z to Pursue Careers in Agriculture and Food Its a great read –
Some important learnings from her executive summary include
Few Gen Zers know about the diversity of careers in agri-food. Many associate agri-food careers ONLY with primary production. Therefore, we must use an edu-marketing approach that focuses on marketing agriculture careers to youth using educational settings and programs. The edu-marketing tactics will build awareness, engagement and commitment to ag careers.
The steps are:
Step 1: Increase exposure of the agri-food sector and the diversity of opportunities available to the general population of youth
Step 2: Provide opportunities for youth to engage with careers through experiential learning (e.g. job shadows, co-op, etc.)
Step 3: Introduce mentors and ambassadors who can offer further positive influence to students who show an interest in agri-food careers
To fully address the labour shortage in agriculture, we need coordinated collaboration between education (schools & education organizations), youth development organizations, and the agrifood sector. Each stakeholder needs to play an essential role and work with the other(s) to ensure that the best possible programming is offered to Gen Z to encourage and inspire them to pursue careers in agri-food.
Collaboration draws on the strengths and resources of each stakeholder, resulting in educational initiatives and programs that excite and engage future agri-food employees.
Again and again this word collaboration comes up. Something we are yet to embrace in Australian agriculture – the capacity to, and realising the power of working together.
The Young Farming Champions (YFC) feature in Becky’s report and we have just published our 2016 YFC Annual Report. This year we had a strong focus on creating a buzz around Careers in Agriculture as part of The Archibull Prize. Becky will be very excited that our research and findings strongly mirror hers
Students were surveyed prior to and at the completion of The Archibull Prize and the results are staggering with a significant shift (from 19% to 52%) in students believing they have a sound knowledge of farming and agriculture.
At the beginning of The Archibull Prize primary school students struggled to identify more than two jobs within agriculture and most suggestions were vague and related to labouring jobs on farm. None of the primary students mentioned science or technical related jobs.
On completion of their projects for The Archibull Prize 64% of the primary students were easily able to nominate up to three different agricultural careers and the jobs they now thought of were more specific (crop duster, farm manager, fashion designer, wool classer etc). The career list also included science based careers such as agronomist, food scientist and veterinarian, which were absent from the entry survey.
AWI Young Farming Champion Dione Howard explores diversity of careers in the wool industry with Hurlstone Agricultural High School students
Similarly, in the survey prior to The Archibull Prize secondary school students also struggled to identify more than two farming or agricultural jobs, with less than 5% of jobs related to scientific roles. By the end however 30% of the jobs mentioned related to the sciences and other jobs were more specifically labelled. Examples of the range included animal nutritionist, rural real estate agent, crop consultant, geneticist, gin machine operator, horse trainer, banker, food engineer and dog trainer. “There are many other jobs apart from just farming in agriculture,” was one student comment. “You can do anything you want in agriculture,” was another.
Students reported that most of the information about careers in agriculture came from speaking to a Young Farming Champion. Also run by Art4Agriculture the Young Farming Champions Program takes young people working in, and passionate about, agriculture and gives them the skills to communicate and present their story to others. “We had a Young Farming Champion talk to us,” commented one secondary student. “She was an agronomist, which I didn’t know was a profession in agriculture.”
At The Archibull Awards Ceremony held in Sydney on 22nd November Mr Scott Hansen, Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, also spoke of the assorted careers available.
Samuel Carpenter from The Henry Lawson High School at Grenfell won the Professor Jim Pratley award for the case study that accurately portrayed a day in the life of an agronomist – a career he is actively planning for.
Are the Young Farming Champions inspiring young people to take up careers in agriculture. Yes they are and the success stories show the power of collaboration
Sharna Holman our first YFC who was inspired to follow a career in cotton pathway by a collaboration between Art4Agriculture, RAS of NSW and Cotton Australia
and its creating a domino effect – Sharna has now inspired Emma Longworth
I went to school at Muirfield High School and participated in Art4Agriculture’s The Archibull Prize Program in 2012 as well as the Sydney Royal Easter Show school’s display from 2013-2015. From these opportunities I was given, my passion for science and agriculture definitely commenced.
I graduated from Muirfield in 2015 with an atar of 95.65, 3rd place in the state for Primary Industries and 8th for Agriculture. I’ve always had a love for animals and outdoor adventures and so I followed my next door neighbour, Sharna Holman’s, footsteps by participating in these events and then pursuing a career in agriculture. Unlike Sharna, I chose to move to Armidale and study a Bachelor of Rural Science at UNE and have definitely had the best year of my life.