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2017 Autumn - The changing agricultural workforce

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FPJ1401D - Pratley, J (2017), The Technology Paradigm Driving Agricultural Workforce Change

FPJ1401D - Pratley, J (2017), The Technology Paradigm Driving Agricultural Workforce Change, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 14, no. 1, Autumn 2017, pp. 19-27, Surry Hills, Australia.

Predicting the agricultural jobs of the future is especially difficult given the pace of change in agricultural work at this time – many jobs being created now were not in the pipeline a decade ago and we can expect this to continue into the future. 
Traditionally, the agricultural workforce has had two distinct components – those who work on-farm and those who work in the value chain off-farm. The number of farm businesses has declined from around 180,000 in 1994 to about 110,000 in 2014, a decline of nearly 40% in 20 years. In theory, this infers that fewer businesses mean fewer jobs as economies of scale click in. Off-farm, over the past two decades, there has been increasing demand for university graduates in the service industries reflecting the need for new and sophisticated skills. 
The digital revolution represents a challenge for education institutions. Australia will require a pipeline of graduates with capabilities in architecting, designing and analysing data. In addition to the ‘traditional’ roles in agriculture, albeit modified by technology, there will be growth in specialist ICT companies and in businesses that service these technologies. The digital revolution is upon the agricultural industries in a significant way – the question is not about whether agriculture is involved but rather how best and how quickly it engages and embraces all that is involved.



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