Offcuts #7: Why more young people should work in Ag

Quality Livestock's Josh Nourse with Sophie Reynolds and Lachie Nielsen, two high school students who recently completed work experience with Quality and are aiming for careers in Agriculture.

FOR those familiar with the world of wool or agriculture in general, it might not seem like the “sexiest” option when finishing your education, figuring out your career path and entering the workforce.

For some, the thought of donning a nice suit and shiny shoes and working in the CBD close to wherever Friday night knock-off drinks are is far more attractive than an ag career.

But what if I told you that could do both?

What if I told you that I work in a building only minutes from the heart of Adelaide’s CBD and wear a freshly-pressed shirt and a pair of chinos to the office everyday?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “agriculture is just farming”, but in reality it’s so much more with opportunities available across numerous levels and locations.

In fact, about 50 per cent of all jobs in the agriculture industry are in capital cities.

So while you can still wear a pair of RM’s to work, you don’t necessarily have to get them dirty if you don’t fancy that sort of thing.

And with enrolments in agricultural courses rising between 15-20 per cent nationwide since 2014, it seems like young people are opening their minds and starting to wise up to the obvious benefits.

So without further adieu, here’s a list of reasons why more young people should think about pursuing a career in agriculture.

Jobs

Hey guess what? There’s loads of jobs available for agricultural graduates.

Statistics show that for every graduate, there are four jobs available.

In agribusiness, this inflates to six jobs for every graduate.

These numbers are in stark contrast to the greater workforce, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting late last year on the dire situation facing Australia’s university graduates, with approximately 22 graduates competing for every new position and many settling for low-paying entry roles just to get their foot in the jobs market (more: http://bit.ly/2I8Aioa).

Add to these facts that agriculture graduates are paid an average starting salary of $60,000 straight out of the gate, and it’s beginning to look pretty attractive right?

Travel

Never before have young people had a bigger appetite for travel than they do now, and the opportunities to do so.

If you choose to forge a career in the agricultural sector, there’s the very real possibility of being paid to do so.

Take the wool game for example.

If you’re a shearing ‘gun for hire’, there’s a fair chance you’ll set foot in a few states as you work your way through the shearing sheds of rural Australia.

The same goes for marketing professionals within wool companies, who make their living travelling to field days, ag fairs, country shows and conventions across the country.

And if you’re in the export game, it’s more than likely your passport will get stamped in China at some point.

Career advancement

Just in my short time working at Quality Wool alone I’ve discovered that:

  • A number of the company’s wool representatives started out as shearers themselves.
  • Our Export Trading Manager used to be a rouseabout.
  • Quality’s Founder and Managing Director cut his teeth working as a jackaroo and on wool boats.

The ceiling for career advancement in wool and ag in general seems to be limitless if you have the drive, passion and willingness to learn.

And with any number of courses and qualifications on offer to continue your personal development, the opportunities are certainly there if you want to take them.

Innovation

The constantly evolving nature of agriculture makes it a very attractive and interesting career choice in my opinion.

In the wool industry in particular, one of the most exciting aspects is that a healthy culture of innovation and ‘outside the box’ thinking is being fostered and encouraged.

For example as a keen sports fan, I love that our industry is forging strong partnerships with apparel giants such as Adidas and Under Armour to push the envelope and create new way to incorporate Merino wool into their products.

If you want to work in a sector that actively encourages creative and innovative thinking rather than stifling it, then look no further.

Social Aspect

For some people, a healthy social environment and atmosphere is an important consideration when thinking about career choices.

In agriculture, you’ll get it in spades.

If you’re at grassroots level and dealing with ‘cockies’, after a long dusty day at a Ewe Competition or Ram Sale the BBQ will usually be fired up and a few cold drinks enjoyed to cap off the day.

And I’ve found that this more informal atmosphere is where I’ve actually learnt a lot about the industry I’m in over a chat and a beer.

If donning a tux is more your thing, there also seems to be no shortage of awards dinners or functions where you can put on a black tie and mix with industry peers in a more formal setting.

Kane McKay

KMcKay@qualitywool.com