Commercial growers ask us often to find them junior/middle management production managers, with a tertiary qualification, with 1-3 years’ experience in primary production management,
especially in specific fruit, vegetables, crops and other horticultural commodities. Input suppliers in agriculture also require the services of BSc Agric graduates with a few years of production experience, and in the food safety certification industry it is a prerequisite for a GLOBALG.A.P auditor to have a tertiary qualification in Agriculture or Food, plus at least three years of primary production experience in a farming environment. This mission became (almost) impossible. No surprise therefore that our industry is experiencing serious shortages of horticulturists, agronomists, soil scientists and related fields of expertise (with specific skills). Adding to that, from a recruitment perspective, this perception from industry is contradicted by the rather large number of agricultural graduates and post-graduates that are struggling to find employment or an opportunity to an internship. It is time for a fresh approach.
A good start was the launch of the ultimate career portal for the agricultural and agri-food sector www.agrijob.co.za in October 2018 @ Stellenbosch University (SU), with seed funding from SU Faculty of AgriSciences. The University of Pretoria (UP) has since also become an Education Partner. Traffic on the website since the launch increased by more than 700%, with daily hits between 30 and 80 per day.A next step is to facilitate industry and student engagement, and an Agricultural Career Day is the ideal platform. We are therefore proud to announce the following AgriCAREERConnect events:
- University of Pretoria 5 September 2019 @ Future Africa, the trendy new development at the UP Proefplaas
- Stellenbosch University 3 October 2019 @ venue to be confirmed
A full-day event involving the private sector and industry organisations in agriculture and related fields:
- Short and powerful talks by experienced graduates throughout the day in the auditorium, sharing their career paths – students can attend presentations of choice.
- Small exhibits/mini-lounges expo style and breakaway rooms where companies can have one-on-one or group sessions with under- and postgraduate students and selected school learners. Outdoor exhibits (banners/gazebos) will create a festive environment. Student appointments for sessions with companies will be facilitated by using a ‘speed-dating’ app, sponsored by Centre for Growing Talent by PMA.
- Integration of other disciplines, i.e. Engineering, Information Technology, GIS, B.Com.
- Target Group: Under- and postgraduate students in Agriculture, Food Science, Forestry and Genetics, first year BSc Biological Science students, and selected school learners with interest in Agricultural Sciences.
- Industry participation and funding: We expect at least 35-45 companies/industry organisations to participate. Participating companies will make contributions based on their level of participation, and corporate sponsorships will also be offered.
Let’s open up communication on how we as an industry is going to respond to recruitment challenges. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make holiday work (short-term internships) available for students, June-July 2019 or December 2019-January 2020;
- Consider a fixed-term internship programme from 2020 onwards;
- Participate in the upcoming AgriCAREERConnect events at University of Pretoria and Stellenbosch University;
- Get involved on www.agrijob.co.za by becoming an Industry or Association Partner;
- Produce a 2-3 min. video to promote your company’s most challenging positions to fill, i.e. Agronomist, Grower, Packhouse Manager, brand it accordingly and make it available for use on the Agrijob website. Our goal is expansion of Agrijob’s 24h virtual career directory.
Whether you face recruitment challenges, or if you would like to participate in the upcoming AgriCAREERConnect events, talk to us. Together we will find solutions.