Report calls for a crucial new perspective on career opportunities in agriculture

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A new report released by AgriFutures Australia aims to understand the perceptions, knowledge and awareness of NSW teachers and careers advisors of agricultural careers and explores the support and resources needed to provide high quality and accurate advice to secondary school students.

The Cultivating the Next Generation project was funded by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as a result of discussion with the Agricultural Workforce Working Group on the importance of school careers advice in encouraging careers in Agriculture. Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the agriculture sector has a great opportunity to redefine itself in students’ minds.

“Many young people are looking for careers that involve technology and sustainability. Agriculture fits the bill in both areas.

“Whether you want to work on the land, in a lab or from an office the agriculture sector has something for everyone.

“I’m really excited about the future of agriculture, and I’d strongly encourage those looking for a rewarding career, and those educating our youth today, to consider ag.”

Led by AgriFutures Australia with CQUniversity Australia completing the extensive research it involved focus groups with ten schools and a survey of 195 educators in New South Wales. The project offers recommendations to improve the quality of advice provided to students.

This project also aimed to better understand educators’ perceptions and knowledge regarding the agricultural industry and careers in agriculture, offering valuable insights into the perspectives and challenges faced by classroom teachers, career advisors, and school leadership.

The main findings of the report include:

  • 46.3% of educators surveyed disagreed with the statement that the agricultural industry in Australia is not a diverse employer in contrast to other industries.
  • 2.7% of respondents thought having a career in agriculture meant becoming a farmer.
  • 98.4% perceived agriculture to be important for Australia’s future.
  • 66.2% of secondary school-based educators say the curriculum is too busy/full to teach about careers in agriculture.
  • 48.1% of secondary school-based educators say they lack confidence in their ability to teach about careers in agriculture.

Managing Director AgriFutures Australia, John Harvey said the agriculture industry, including fisheries and forestry, must do more to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce,

“It’s crucial that future generations are informed about the diverse career opportunities within agriculture, and more importantly view it as an attractive employment choice.

“We need to show young people that careers in agriculture are not only rewarding, but also essential for our future, playing an important role in environmental management and food security,” Mr Harvey said.

“The report has clearly shown that it’s imperative to connect with educators, particularly career advisors and teachers, who play a pivotal role in guiding students towards their future careers.

NSW school-based educators indicate resourcing is a key issue

The research found that school-based educators in NSW schools are often managing competing tasks, making it difficult for students to access the information and guidance they need to make informed decisions about their future careers in the agricultural industry.

However, lead researcher Associate Professor CQUniversity Australia, Amy Cosby says the responsibility for promoting careers in agriculture extends beyond career advisors and stresses the need for greater community awareness around the diverse possibilities in the agricultural sector.

“Teacher, careers advisors and school leadership are instrumental in shaping the career choices of students. It’s crucial to provide them with the support and resources they need to effectively introduce students to the diverse opportunities in agriculture,” A/Prof Cosby said.

“Career advisors can have hundreds of students that they need to provide opportunities, experiences, and advice to. It’s up to everyone in schools and the agricultural industry to encourage school students to consider careers in agriculture.

“It’s also important that the agriculture industry provides support to the education sector to enable opportunities and provide knowledge.

“There are so many unique and varied roles in agriculture and they all require different skills-sets, and interests but the difficulty is in getting people to go beyond their thinking of what a career in ag could look like, that’s where the face-to-face interaction and learning experiences are just so important.”

The report concludes that the following five resources should be developed and implemented to increase the quality of advice provided about education and career pathways in the agricultural industry.

  1. Develop short, standalone one-lesson, curriculum-aligned activities.
  2. Develop video case studies of industry ambassadors showcasing the diverse range of jobs in agriculture.
  3. Provide more opportunities for both industry incursions and excursions.
  4. A pilot program run in a metropolitan and regional area that will provide valuable opportunities for work placement, targeting the school delivered VET course, Certificate II in Primary Industries or Rural Operations, which has a mandatory placement component.
  5. Increase the confidence of teachers and career advisors to promote careers in agriculture, by providing professional development opportunities in the form of face-to-face events and webinars.

Click to download the Cultivating the Next Generation report

Media contact
Ingrid Lee-Scott
Dentsu Creative Public Relations
| 0410 047 767

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