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Report shows ag job openings outnumber qualified graduates nationally
CSU Stanislaus Ag Studies Department doing part to prepare students
Ag Studies
Students set to graduate from CSU Stanislaus with a degree in Agricultural Studies are relieved to know that they will more than likely have a job right after graduation, thanks to a recent report by the USDA stating the number of high-skilled job openings in agriculture related fields throughout the nation outnumber the amount of new graduates by 22,500 annually.

Graduating from college can be a scary concept for most students, especially for those who do not have a job lined up once they receive their diplomas.

However, a recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture is sure to take a load off the shoulders of 21 students scheduled to graduate from California State University, Stanislaus’ Agricultural Studies Department at the end of this month.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier this week announced a new report showing tremendous demand for recent college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs with an estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment fields in the United States.

According to an employment outlook report released today by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Purdue University, there is an average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor's degree or higher in agriculture related fields, 22,500 short of the jobs available annually.

"There is incredible opportunity for highly-skilled jobs in agriculture," said Vilsack. "Those receiving degrees in agricultural fields can expect to have ample career opportunities. Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses some of the world's most pressing challenges. These jobs will only become more important as we continue to develop solutions to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050."

The report projects almost half of the job opportunities will be in management and business. Another 27 percent will be in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas. Jobs in food and biomaterials production will make up 15 percent, and 12 percent of the openings will be in education, communication, and governmental services. The report also shows that women make up more than half of the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment higher education graduates in the United States.

According to Agricultural Studies Department Rolland Starn Endowed Chair Oluwarotimi Odeh, this report, although it reflects national numbers, is also applicable to the local region. 

“There is an increasing number of ag related job openings in the area, however a majority of these openings require technical skills and versatility because of the increasing use of technology in the food and agricultural industry and the global scope of the industry,” said Odeh.

“Agriculture today is changing and becoming more complex and data driven. It is quite different from the traditional, localized ‘farming’ that existed decades ago,” continued Odeh. “Hence, CSU Stanislaus has a big role to play in filling the openings.”

Odeh reported that the there are currently approximately 75 students in the Agricultural Studies Department at the University, with 21 set to graduate this month.

According to Odeh, these 21 students, as well as every other Agricultural Studies student that will graduate from CSU Stanislaus in the future, will be prepared to fill potential job openings since the department is continuously reviewing its curriculum and collecting feedback from employers and alumni in order to ensure the university’s preparation of graduates that are both competitive and prepared to lead in the food and agricultural industry.

“We have recently hired a new Plant Science faculty with the international experience and expertise in crops that are grown in the California Central Valley,” said Odeh. “We are also developing new courses and experiential learning activities to strengthen our curriculum and prepare our students to be the obvious choice for employers, graduate school programs, and to become successful agribusiness entrepreneurs.”

Acknowledging that agriculture is a global business, Odeh hopes that the Department will encourage students to be competent and support local agribusiness, while also remaining competitive globally.

“This is our vision and we are working with several agribusinesses, government agencies, and other academic institutions to achieve this vision,” said Odeh. “Job and career opportunities are growing in agriculture and we are excited about the trend.”

Other highlights of the report include:

·         While most employers prefer to hire graduates of food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment programs, graduates from these programs only fill about 60 percent of the expected annual openings. Even as enrollments in these programs increase and the job market becomes somewhat more competitive, good employment opportunities for the next five years are expected.

·         Growth in job opportunities will be uneven. Employers in some areas will struggle to find enough graduates to fill jobs. In a few areas, employers will find an oversupply of job seekers.

·         Expect to see a strong employment market for e-commerce managers and marketing agents, ecosystem managers, agricultural science and business educators, crop advisors, and pest control specialists.

·         Job opportunities in STEM areas are expected to grow. Expect the strongest job market for plant scientists, food scientists, sustainable biomaterials specialists, water resources scientists and engineers, precision agriculture specialists, and veterinarians.

The report, Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment, United States, 2015–2020, is the eighth in a series of five-year projections initiated by USDA in 1980. The report was produced by Purdue University with grant support from NIFA.