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Survey: Ag Industry Failing to Attract Next Generation of Workers
USAgNet - 03/16/2016

The world's demand for food will surge by 2050, with a projected 10 billion people requiring a 70 percent increase in food production. The question is, who will lead the way to find solutions for this demand and ensure the world's people will be fed? on National Agriculture Day, the stark shortage of agricultural talent as well as lingering misperceptions about Ag careers are of pressing concern to agricultural groups, universities and agriculture and food companies.

A recent nationally representative survey conducted by ORC International on behalf of Land O'Lakes, Inc. shows there's a startling lack of young people planning to work in the agriculture industry. In fact, only 3 percent of college grads and 9 percent of Millennials surveyed have or would consider an Ag career.

When compared to other industries, respondents were least likely to indicate that they have or would consider a career in agriculture (6 percent), with healthcare and technology at the highest career interest (each at 21 percent); followed by education (20 percent); marketing and sales; finance; and manufacturing and engineering (all at 12 percent).

USDA job reports underscore these findings: more than 20,000 agriculture jobs go unfilled each year.

Despite this fact, the majority of survey respondents, about 54 percent, think it is difficult or very difficult for recent college graduates to get a job in agriculture.

"We will need to produce more food in the next 40 or 50 years than in the previous 500 years combined," said Lydia Botham, executive director, Land O'Lakes Foundation. "Our priorities are clear--we must focus on attracting the next generation of Ag workers to the highly skilled, well-paid career opportunities. Failing to do so may lead to severe consequences."

According to the survey, 76 percent of respondents do not think or are not sure if a career in Ag pays well.

This misperception is prevalent across geographies (85 percent in the Northeast, 82 percent in the West and 71 percent in the Midwest and South). However, 35 percent of Millennials think Ag careers do pay well, (compared with 21 percent of Generation X and 17 percent of Baby Boomers), which may be a promising sign of attracting college students to the field.

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