THE dearth of skilled agricultural graduates could pose a serious threat to Australia’s agricultural economy, according to an occasional paper published by the Australian Farm Institute.
The Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture’s Professor Jim Pratley and Rimfire Resources’ Nigel Crawley investigated the destinations of graduates from a number of tertiary institutions involved in Rimfire’s GradLink program over the 10-year period from 2004-14.
While noting this was not a random sample, Professor Pratley and Mr Crawley said the study – Graduate Destinations in Agriculture – captured the activities of around one-in-six graduates in agriculture and related studies.
The research found that during the period of study there was a surfeit of jobs available based on the number of advertisements in papers and on the internet, with at least 4000 advertisements in agriculture in each year from 2009-14.
“Over the past decade much has been written about the decline in the availability of agricultural graduates in Australia and elsewhere, due in part to the perceptions that career paths were not attractive and that there were limited employment opportunities,” Professor Pratley said.
“This perception was challenged by data indicating that there were five to six jobs for every graduate, and that the shortfall in the availability was a threat to the sustainability of primary production industries in Australia.”
However, the study noted that although there may be a relative abundance of opportunities for graduates, the linkage between potential employer and potential employee is often not readily made.
“The employer needs to find the right person and the graduate needs to be mentored to gain the appropriate job,” Professor Pratley said.
The study also found that institutions with rural campuses had much higher proportions remain in rural employment.
Rural finance and sales were the most common employment categories.
Around 10 per cent went back to farm production and 9pc left the sector.
Both genders were employed in all sectors and no gender bias was identified.
From 2004-14, about half the study participants (52pc) were employed in rural locations, and 37pc in metropolitan locations.
A small fraction (2pc) had gone overseas and around 9pc had left the agricultural sector for work.
Source: Australian Farm Institute
See full paper: http://farminstitute.org.au/publications/occasional-papers.html