Population growth puts mounting pressure on food production; increasing climate disasters add further challenges, requiring farmers to produce more with less. Although recent years have placed greater focus on sustainability and the role of technology in agriculture, techniques like soil and water conservation and no-till production have put farmers ahead of the curve.
Many sustainability practices in the agricultural sector are already technology driven. Key examples are precision agriculture, quality control and identity preservation, cellular agriculture, and controlled environment agriculture. While these and other advancements highlight notable opportunities for the sector in terms of production and conservation, agricultural employers interviewed for this study cite labour shortages as their biggest challenge to growth and productivity.
The agricultural talent gap is partially attributed to what can be described as a fundamental shift in the agri-food labour market. Developments like farm consolidation, technology adoption and implementation, and productivity gains ultimately shrink the total volume of talent needed to support primary agricultural production. However, these same forces produce new and additional demand for talent in fields like agri-food tech, agricultural science, ag consulting, and agri-business, along with new roles and skill sets. Moreover, unlike traditional agriculture, data, agri-food science, and environmental consulting all directly inform the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. Factoring this in, it is no surprise that one third of ag employers surveyed in this study plan to hire trades roles; another one fifth plan to hire roles in ag science and research, business and marketing, environmental consulting, digital technology, utilies, and R&D. Employers said that these roles are in demand across all seniority levels.