Career day aimed at busting myths about working in agriculture

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Students at the Ag Industry Day

A series of successful career days aimed at busting myths about working in agriculture took place in Albury/Wodonga on Wednesday, 21 June and Wagga Wagga on Thursday, 22 June.

AgriFutures Australia and Training Services NSW hosted tech-savvy, socially minded Gen Zs at the inaugural Ag Industry Days, an event that showcased the diverse career opportunities in Australia’s agricultural industry.

The one-day workshops involved Year 9 and 10 school students who engaged with some of the most dynamic young professionals at the forefront of innovation in agriculture. The students also had the opportunity to visit local businesses that were transforming the industry.

With the goal of inspiring the next generation of agriculture professionals, AgriFutures Australia showcased an array of some of the most exciting career opportunities available in agriculture, ranging from biotechnicians and marine scientists to agricultural engineers and economists.

Manager, Workforce Delivery at AgriFutures Australia, Abbey O’Callaghan, said the workshops were developed in response to recommendations from a recent community perceptions and worker experiences report. The report emphasised the need to broaden the conversation about roles in the industry and showcase new technology as a selling point.

“Some of the world’s biggest challenges are directly related to agriculture: food security, sustainability, and climate change. The Ag Industry Days challenged perceptions of the agriculture industry and galvanised the next generation of agricultural innovators.

“Importantly, we wanted to inspire students to embrace STEM and agricultural subjects as they progress into their senior school years.”

Students at Ag Industry Day workshop
Students at Ag Industry Day workshop

During the Ag Industry Days, attendees were challenged to answer the question, “How do we rethink agriculture?” Participating students could refine their answers and submit their ‘pitch’ to AgriFutures Australia. The responses will offer important insights into the perspectives of young people considering their career options.

Goterra, an innovative food waste management company, was one of the diverse local industry organisations that hosted students for field trips during the event. Olympia Yarger, CEO of Goterra and the 2023 ACT Australian of the Year, recognised the role of such events in dispelling misconceptions about the agriculture industry.

“One of the biggest challenges startups in the agritech space are facing is how to attract talent that hasn’t necessarily grown up in agriculture but is passionate about its future. A contributing factor to this challenge is the belief that agriculture is old-fashioned or stuck in the past,” said Olympia.

“The reality is Australian agriculture remains on the forefront of innovation in the sector and is so diverse in opportunity it can almost be difficult to choose where to put one’s attention. Events like the Ag Industry Days are critical in showcasing the opportunities available, and as always, I’m so pleased Goterra is able to support and participate,” Olympia concluded.

Students at Goterra for Ag Industry Day field trip
Students at Goterra for Ag Industry Day field trip

According to Katie Friedlieb, Senior Project Officer at Training Services NSW, the workshop provided students insights into an industry that may not be on their radar.

“Agriculture is no longer just about the traditional farmer, and we need professionals working in the sector in an off-farm capacity,” Katie said. “The Ag Industry Days were an informal and interactive day for students to see the bigger picture.”

The field trip locations included CSU Global Digital Farm, TAFE Primary Industries Centre, Riverina Oils, and My Chef in Wagga, while Goterra, TAFE NSW National Environment Centre, and Wolki Farm were the field trip locations in Albury.

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