2017 Autumn - The changing agricultural workforce

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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.

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