Were talking one in 12 jobs in this country. More than 20 million jobs. No, it isnt a mirage and your glasses arent dirty. These statistics, referring to an undisputably wide range of jobs, come from the USDA.
Before you think Im referring to jobs that require childhood on a farm or adulthood on a combine, consider what Eric Spell points out.
Dupont, Pioneer, ADM, Cargill and Tyson Foods are well-named brands employing thousands of people, he says. There are positions requiring an ag degree or level of ag understanding and knowledge; there are equally as many or more that dont.
Spell is founder of AgCareers.com in Clinton, N.C., with other offices in the United States, Canada and Australia. He adds that AgWarriors.com specializes in finding jobs in the industry for returning veterans.
Not all companies in the industry are aggressively hiring. Growmark Inc., headquartered in Bloomington, Ill., is a full-line ag supplier of goods and services with approximately 7,000 employees, according to Steve German, Human Resources manager in Champaign-Urbana. Company financials disclose 2011 net sales of $8.59 billion.
Theres always a great need for many of the positions, he comments. Were in competition with ag companies. Retiring baby boomers intensify recruiting, although many retirees return for spring and fall, the companys busy season. German cant think of areas within Growmark where demand might be slipping.
Another organization, Monsanto Company, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., is remaining steady ... (without) rapidly growing staffing needs in any area, reports Melissa Harper, talent acquisition lead. According to the company website, the companys 20,000 employees are divided almost equally here and abroad.
A Monsanto SEC filing for FY 2011 reports net sales of $11.82 billion from Monsanto and its subsidiaries agricultural products. Last year it filled 1,900 full-time positions to cover attrition, according to Harper.
Spell says the industry is looking for people willing to understand. Some companies have developed orientation programs to facilitate their transition. Harper describes most of her fellow workers as curious about ag.
Spell observes that consolidation in farm-equipment related businesses has created a leadership demand, and high demand in parts, service and store management.
He also mentions the industry draws applicants with many of the same specialties as other industries, including finance, accounting and support. One food-related advertiser on his site recruits for people in pastoral and nursing positions.
German, at Growmark, lists a number of occupations requiring varying knowledge of the industry accountants, lawyers, environmental specialists, customer service representatives, marketing and communication people, just to mention a few. IT is huge, because machines are computer-driven.
While both Spell and German see continued shortage and high demand in agronomy, Spell also cites shortages in biofuels, alternative fuels, grain merchandising and commodity analysis, and critical need in farm equipment-related positions. Many jobs dont require a baccalaureate.
Approaching the industry without a farm background or ag-related degree might not stall your career change. Growmark, for instance, hires people who commit to a community college or a four-year college, German indicates. The company also orients people without ag education or background. Monsanto failed to mention similar programs.
Last year, AgCareers.com listed 50,000 jobs, the highest number in its 15-year history. First quarter 2012 listings were up 17 percent over first quarter a year ago.
The planet needs to feed more people than ever before with less land, Spell comments. That means there will be lots of opportunities in R&D around agronomy, seed, crop protection and equipment, and throughout the production chain.
Ag, a growth industry, requires many occupations outside of farming. Look for a niche for you.
Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at email@example.com. © 2012 Passage Media.