A report from the STEM Food & Ag Council has found that there's a growing gap between the number of graduates in agriculture-related science, technology, engineering and math fields and the number of available employment opportunities.
Released at the World Food Price Borlaug Dialogue last month, the report analyzes employment and enrollment in six fields: Agricultural business and management; Agriculture mechanization and engineering; Animal sciences; Plant and soil science; Food science and technology; and other life sciences.
Key findings indicated that from January to August 2014, the food and agriculture industries hired nearly 34,000 people per month.
Additionally, a quarter of current food and agriculture professionals are age 55 or older, meaning workforce attrition will create additional opportunities for young professionals to advance in their careers.
The report also found 4.9% aggregate growth in STEM employment opportunities in advanced agriculture fields is projected over the next five years, adding 33,100 new positions.
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The STEM Food & Ag Council, a project of STEMconnector, said Millennials can seize job opportunities with a STEM education. The report recommends food and agriculture industries work closely with educational institutions to help close the employment gap.
"We live in a knowledge-based, global economy, and it is critical our students be prepared for the jobs and opportunities of the 21st century, and the food and agriculture sector meet its growing demand for young professionals," said Iowa Lieutenant Governor and STEM Food & Ag Council Chair Kim Reynolds.
"Meeting the increasing global demand for food will require a whole new generation of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs," said Paul Schickler, DuPont Pioneer president and STEM Food & Ag Council vice chair. "The opportunities are growing, but we must apply new solutions to fill these critical jobs in the long term."
The report also includes recommendations on closing the human capital gap and provides an annual snapshot of the workforce supply and demand for each of the identified programs. In addition, five young professionals in the food and agriculture industries were profiled in this year's report.
"Agriculture is increasingly global and information-based, which is as exciting at the farm gate as it is in international agribusiness," said Andrew Lauver, the 24-year-old Frank Ross International Emerging Leader at DuPont Pioneer.
"There are so many opportunities for people my age to make a real impact and travel the world as a part of the solution to global hunger and poverty."
View full ag employment data in the 2014 STEM Food & Ag Council Report.