By: Brad Schloesser
August 1, 2017
The southern region of Minnesota is known for its rich abundance of natural resources. A fortuitous mix of black fertile soil, sufficient seasonal moisture and ample sunshine makes southern Minnesota one of the best places in the world to produce food, feed, fiber and fuel. In addition, the region also possesses a traditional agricultural heritage that has kept a solid segment of the population dedicated to the production of agricultural products, passionate about the industry and aware that education is a strategic key to ensure ongoing success.
Currently, only 1 percent of the total number of students enrolled in post-high school education focus on the study of agriculture, according to a Purdue University Study supported by USDA. The result is that two times as many diverse job opportunities exist as there are qualified graduates to fill them. With the support and encouragement from organizations like the Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture, this should be changing.
The mission of the Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture is to align students with the resources of academic institutions and industry to develop and sustain the workforce needs of agriculture in southern Minnesota. This effort has the Center working with middle and high school students, farmers and agribusiness partners and even includes a recent initiative that seeks to attract veterans to agriculture.
As a result of these and other efforts, general awareness of agriculture careers is growing. Currently, it is estimated that 17 percent of the U.S. civilian workforce is involved in some facet of American agricultural production or distribution, which accounts for approximately 23 million jobs, according to FAO.org. And as the industry grows, so do the career options within the Ag industry. Opportunities exist for careers in: agribusiness, animal systems, biotechnology, environmental service systems, food products and processing, natural resources, plant systems, power, structural and technical systems and agricultural education.
You can view more Ag careers by visiting a showcase of “Virtual Field Trips” at www.agexplorer.com.
The Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture is partnering with AgriGrowth and RealTime Talent to host the AgriGrowth Job Exchange – a cutting-edge matching technology that will transform the candidate recruitment process and streamline how employers and candidates connect with each other. The job exchange is a centralized entry point for agricultural job seekers and employers and will hopefully close the gap that exists between the two.
The job exchange prioritizes questions about interests, preferences, work place environments and priority needs – reducing hiring bias and mismatches between job seekers and employers. It also provides for higher-quality matches between job seekers and employers, reducing time and cost for both, provides automated candidate pool demographic reports for simplified EEOC reporting and includes over 100,000 statistically validated job characteristics.
In addition, it notifies job seekers and employers of their top matches, eliminating time spent sorting through stacks of resumes or endless job lists, and includes integrated promotions through social media and email. All job posts are “active” and automatically post to 5,000 other no-cost local, regional and national job sites. You can view the job exchange at: http://www.centerofagriculture.org/agrigrowth-job-exchange.
If you or someone you know is considering a job in agriculture or planning to pursue an education to prepare for a rewarding opportunity in the agriculture career pathways, the Southern Minnesota Center for Agriculture could provide some assistance. The Center supports students at the high school level and at post-secondary institutions Minnesota West Community & Technical College, Riverland Community College, South Central College and Southwest Minnesota State University – Marshall. Let us know how we can help as you seek to cultivate a career in agriculture.
Brad J. Schloesser is Dean of Agriculture at South Central College and Executive Director of the Southern MN Center of Agriculture.