Students aspiring to a career in agriculture should study business: FCC survey

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High school students considering a career in agriculture in the next five years should focus on acquiring marketing, management and other business skills according to a new cross-Canada survey conducted by Farm Credit Canada (FCC) and Agriculture in the Classroom Canada.

Approximately 2,000 FCC Vision Panel members – producers and agribusiness owners across Canada – were asked in April 2012 to list the skills they believe young people need to be successful in agriculture.

In addition to marketing, management and business skills, respondents also identified knowledge, understanding of agriculture, and technology as priorities for young people who want to work in the industry.

Producers are currently enjoying high prices, which may represent a short-term spike. The long-term economic outlook, however, looks positive for well-educated, young people venturing into the industry. World farm commodity prices are expected to remain high over the next decade, fuelled by high demand and from rapid income growth in developing countries, according to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations’ food agency.

“Given that one in eight jobs in Canada are in the agri-food industry, there are a lot of opportunities for young people,” says Greg Stewart, FCC President and CEO. “As the industry grows in complexity, so does the need for great business acumen. As Canada’s leading agriculture lender, we know this very well at FCC and that’s why we offer value-added learning programs that focus on business management.”

FCC sponsors learning events across the country and produces informative podcasts and YouTube videos on farm management practices and industry trends.

FCC is also working in partnership with Agriculture in the Classroom Canada, a national group focused on promoting agriculture education and awareness in schools across Canada. For more information, visit www.aitc.ca.

“Agriculture in the Classroom representatives will be able to use this information to guide the future direction of career resources and programs,” says Colleen Smith, Executive Director of Ontario Agri-Food Education Inc., representing Agriculture in the Classroom in Ontario. “We believe it’s important to share the research results publicly so young people will consider a career in agriculture, know what skills to focus on and understand the breadth of opportunity that exists in the sector.”

When asked about skills needed to be successful in agriculture, producers offered the following comments:

“Knowledge of computer skills: word processing, invoicing, email, social media; ag equipment computer monitor knowledge.” – Crop producer

“Education – must have the intellectual skills well established as training never ends.” – Beef producer

“Knowledge of the work, financing and management it takes to run a farm nowadays.” – Crop producer

“Scientific and business skills - required to evolve agriculture into a strong, technically based industry.” Horticulture producer

Organizations: Farm Credit Canada, Classroom Canada

Geographic location: Canada

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