Although my university days are long behind me, I’ve got college on my mind these days as my youngest sister, Kaley, graduated a semester early from high school and headed off this week to my alma mater, South Dakota State University. She’s planning on studying agricultural business with law school in her sights, and I’ll admit, it will be nice to have a lawyer in the family to help with estate planning down the road!
I graduated from college in 2009, during the peak of the nation’s recession. Although I was fortunate to have gainful employment and an opportunity to ranch with my folks, many of my peers were struggling to find work. It wasn’t a great time to be job hunting.
I think one thing that helped me find work was my background in agriculture. While other industries could afford to cut back on skilled laborers, feeding the world is a job that isn’t ever going to become obsolete.
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I recently read an article on agprofessional.com entitled, “8 reasons why ag careers are needed now more than ever.” For college students looking into careers in agriculture, the future certainly looks bright!
An excerpt from the article reads, “While agriculture is a multi-billion dollar industry that directly affects everyone in the world each day, employers still struggle to find qualified candidates that are enthusiastic about the industry and need. According to the USDA, ‘between 2010 and 2015 there will be more jobs available in ag and food systems, renewable energy, and the environment than qualified graduates to fill them.’ With the industry booming but college students being left uninformed about the importance of agricultural careers, the numbers need to increase.”
So what were the top eight reasons why agricultural careers are so important? The article listed the following:
1. The population is increasing.
2. There is a need for a “new” generation of agriculture.
3. Agriculture is more diverse now than ever before, offering a wide variety of jobs available.
4. There is a shortage of college graduates in agriculture.
5. The industry is growing at a fast pace.
6. Agricultural technologies are quickly advancing, creating new jobs.
7. Salaries are increasing to keep people engaged in agricultural careers.
8. Agricultural careers are rewarding.
What really piqued my interest about the article was that less than 1% of college students are in an agricultural major. What’s more, in 2013, there were 56,000+ career opportunities in the agricultural industry, and only 29,000 graduates who were trained to fill them, according to AgCareers.com.
The article boasted that, “It is undeniable that the agriculture industry is one of the smartest career paths to take. Whether you are looking for a company that you fit in with, a competitive salary, or you want to make a difference, the agricultural sector has such a wide variety of jobs to choose from that it is easy to find what suits you best. It’s a growing field that needs new and talented employees to be ready to fill positions and be the next generation of agriculture.”
The sky is definitely the limit for young people like my sister Kaley and her peers. As the world population grows, the role of food producers -- and the various careers available in the agricultural industry -- will become increasingly important.
Now the challenge will be recruiting young people to take on the job and enticing fresh blood to get in the business -- whether that’s as an ag lawyer, ag engineer, ag lender, farmer, rancher, or maybe even an ag blogger like me.
It’s truly an exciting time to be in agriculture, and I’m excited to be a part of it. What do you think about the future and job prospects for ag? Would you encourage young people to seek such an opportunity? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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