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2017 Autumn - The changing agricultural workforce

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Farm Policy Journal: Vol 14 No 1 2017 Autumn - Full Journal - The changing agricultural workforce

Australian Farm Institute (2017), The changing agricultural workforce, Farm Policy Journal: Vol. 14 No. 1, Autumn, Surry Hills, Australia.

ISSN 1449–2210 (Print)
ISSN 1449–8812 (Web)


FPJ1401B - Heath, R (2017), The Changing Agricultural Workforce

FPJ1401B - Heath, R (2017), The Changing Agricultural Workforce, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, Autumn 2017, pp. 1-8, Surry Hills, Australia.

Agriculture offers one the most diverse and in demand opportunities for job hunters in any sector of the economy. There is a surplus of jobs compared to graduates and the range of job types and career paths available is huge and changing rapidly.
Job requirements are evolving as farms professionalise, automation and technology use in general becomes endemic, the Internet of Things (IoT) spreads throughout agriculture and value chains become shortened so that there is minimal separation between food and agriculture. Much of this new agriculture involves multiple disciplines and is fast outstripping notions of a typical farmer skill set.
In many circumstances, particularly in the research, service and support sectors, the skill sets will be delivered by people without traditional agricultural backgrounds as opportunities and technologies used within agriculture attract new entrants and businesses.
Another set of skills and workplace cultures that will need to be understood are those around agile and lean development. Businesses deploying agile development methods will have an increasing prominence in the delivery of products and services, and traditional research and extension models, in particular, will need to understand how to work with these methods.
Agriculture has always needed a mix of soft and hard skills as managers pull together a range of expertise to make appropriate decisions. This need is going to grow even more as the range of technologies, practices and business processes that make up a modern farm business grow. Farm managers will truly need to be a Jack or Jill of all trades and have finely honed soft skills in decision-making, analysis and marketing while at the same time being able to access an increasingly diverse set of highly technical specialist service providers with detailed expertise in an ever-growing suite of tools and technologies.


FPJ1401C - Korff, D (2017), The Changing Agricultural Workforce – How Can it be Sustained and Developed?

FPJ1401C - Korff, D (2017), The Changing Agricultural Workforce – How Can it be Sustained and Developed?, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, Autumn 2017, pp. 11-17, Surry Hills, Australia.

The Future Farmers Network (FFN) is a national network for young people working in agriculture and agribusiness. In this paper, the Chair of the FFN discusses the future of agriculture’s workforce, and specifically what skills, training and labour requirements may be needed. 
Creating objective and rigorous initiatives to improve young people’s training, and increase the attraction and retention of staff in agriculture is extremely challenging. The rapid evolution of technology is challenging the ability of many training organisations and businesses to supply people with required skills, particularly as many of skills required have not traditionally been associated with agriculture. 
The future agricultural workforce needs to train themselves not only in areas of traditional knowledge, but also in the new, emerging skill sets.


FPJ1401D - Pratley, J (2017), The Technology Paradigm Driving Agricultural Workforce Change

FPJ1401D - Pratley, J (2017), The Technology Paradigm Driving Agricultural Workforce Change, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, Autumn 2017, pp. 19-27, Surry Hills, Australia.

Predicting the agricultural jobs of the future is especially difficult given the pace of change in agricultural work at this time – many jobs being created now were not in the pipeline a decade ago and we can expect this to continue into the future. 
Traditionally, the agricultural workforce has had two distinct components – those who work on-farm and those who work in the value chain off-farm. The number of farm businesses has declined from around 180,000 in 1994 to about 110,000 in 2014, a decline of nearly 40% in 20 years. In theory, this infers that fewer businesses mean fewer jobs as economies of scale click in. Off-farm, over the past two decades, there has been increasing demand for university graduates in the service industries reflecting the need for new and sophisticated skills. 
The digital revolution represents a challenge for education institutions. Australia will require a pipeline of graduates with capabilities in architecting, designing and analysing data. In addition to the ‘traditional’ roles in agriculture, albeit modified by technology, there will be growth in specialist ICT companies and in businesses that service these technologies. The digital revolution is upon the agricultural industries in a significant way – the question is not about whether agriculture is involved but rather how best and how quickly it engages and embraces all that is involved.


FPJ1401E - Burrow, T (2017), Agribusiness is a Cornerstone of Australia’s Future Prosperity

FPJ1401E - Burrow, T (2017), Agribusiness is a Cornerstone of Australia’s Future Prosperity, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, Autumn 2017, pp. 29-35, Surry Hills, Australia.

Australian agriculture is going through a period of rapid change. Agricultural output surged by an extraordinary 27.6% in 2016, following a record harvest in every state. Domestically drivers of change include greater consumer involvement, interest, and attachment to food and its production. Internationally, surging demand from middle-class consumers in developing nations is creating an unprecedented expansion of available opportunities. 
The growth potential of the agribusiness industry is creating industry optimism to open new markets, create jobs and develop new technologies. Today’s agribusinesses incorporate all types of exciting career paths, and increasingly attract more newcomers, more innovators. Engineering, science, IT, commerce and management are all cornerstone skill sets for successful businesses in this growing sector. Universities that struggled to fill agricultural science courses only a couple of years ago are seeing a strong resurgence in student numbers, often from students who do not have a farming or rural background.
Australia’s agribusiness sector is rushing to recruit a new generation of tech-savvy graduates as the sector swaps its dusty image for a future of drones, robots and automated sensors. Even entry-level jobs now have higher skills requirements as the distance between paddock and plate is shortened. While the A$4 billion agriculture technology industry is still in its infancy, Australia is among the world’s leaders in robotics in the agribusiness sector. 


FPJ1401F - Collins et al. (2017), New Immigrants Critical to Australian Agriculture

FPJ1401F - Collins et al. (2017), New Immigrants Critical to Australian Agriculture, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, Autumn 2017, pp. 37-49, Surry Hills, Australia.

Australia is one of the most urbanised nations in the world today. While most immigration to Australia has been to the cities, since the turn of the century new visa pathways and policy initiatives have led to unprecedented numbers of permanent and temporary immigrants settling in rural and regional Australia. Many of these new immigrants in the Australian bush have worked in the agricultural sector of the economy helping to redress labour shortages and adding new skills and innovative insights to contribute greatly to increasing the productivity of the Australian agricultural industry.
This article draws on the findings of a recently-completed and published three-year RIRDC-funded research project into new immigrants and Australian agriculture. The article finds that immigrants are of increasing importance to the Australian agricultural sector and to regional and rural Australia in general. At the 2011 Census first and second generation immigrants comprised between 22% and 38% of the non-urban population of Australian states.
Skilled permanent immigrants add considerably to the productivity of Australian agriculture by filling skilled vacancies in the agricultural sector and bring their expertise from their pre-immigration employment experience. Immigrant farmers are increasing in numbers and significance, helping to redress problems of inter-generational succession increasingly experienced by non-immigrant farmer families. Immigrant farmers also increase productivity by bringing with them new technological insights gained overseas to apply to Australia farming.


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