Ag employers tell us that technical and hourly roles are the most difficult to recruit for (2017-2018 U.S. Agribusiness HR Review). The disproportionally large segment of baby boomers employed in skilled trade roles and their impending retirement, adds to the expected workforce shortage in the coming years (Forbes.com). What may be a struggle for employers is good news for candidates that don’t have a bachelor’s or advanced degree. This dilemma for employers can also be a catalyst for youth career planning.
For years parents and counselors have encouraged youth to get a university degree, but this may be changing as we recognize the worker shortage and career potential in skilled trades. Apprenticeships, certification training and two-year degrees provide a low-cost education alternative that teaches career ready skills.
Many employers appear to have flexibility in hiring the best fitting candidate without adhering to a strict education requirement. Nearly 30% of all jobs posted on AgCareers.com in 2017 did not list a specific minimum education level.
According to agribusinesses surveyed in the recent AgCareers.com Intern & New Grad Report, we’re approaching one of the busiest months (March) for filling and completing new graduate job offers. Meanwhile, there is increasing demand among employers for sales and production roles, the most hired categories for new graduates. This competition for talent necessitates that employers create compelling job offers for new grad hires.
College students are becoming savvier at analyzing and negotiating job offers. More than half of U.S. employers responding to our survey said they could offer sign-on bonuses to new graduate hires to entice them to accept the offer.
Is a curmudgeon creating a conundrum at work? You know every workplace has at least one – the bad-tempered, complaining, irritable, negative, grudge-holding office grouch. You can hear their groans when there is an invitation to a company event or even when they’re asked to sign a birthday card. You must drag them out of their office to join coworkers for lunch. Change is inevitable, but a new office policy, product, or alteration in plans can really set them off.
We’ve heard the concept that your worst enemy can be your best teacher. Enemy may not be an entirely appropriate word to describe the grouch (perhaps annoyance is better), but you get the idea. You can learn from people that you find the most bothersome.
NEWS ALERT: Curmudgeons can be valuable to an organization.
Consider your hectic schedule of holiday parties, gatherings, school events, and preparations for the season. Pile that on top of your already busy work calendar, and the holidays can quickly become overwhelming.
How do you remain productive over the holidays?
It might be enticing for you to take a bit of a “hiring holiday” at work. Besides recruitment, your HR department is likely knee-deep in planning annual reviews and salary increases for January. Do you really need to continue recruiting during December? YES! Your competitors are actively recruiting, and candidates are still searching.
How do you predict if an employee will succeed or fail in their role? If you hire the candidate with the most experience and highest GPA, they should become a star player in your organization, right?
For years people assumed that Intelligence Quotient, IQ, was the source of a person’s success. However, studies indicated that people with the highest IQs outperform those with average IQs just 20% of the time, while people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70% of the time. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves provides an in-depth look at this topic.
We are welcoming a new generation into the workplace, Generation Z. Born after 1998, they are also sometimes referred to as Centennials or iGeneration. Gen Z’ers are your new high school graduates and upcoming college students that will be looking for internships and finding their first job in the next few years.
What can we expect to experience with this new generation of employees?
This is the first completely digitized generation that has always been connected to the internet and as expected, they are proficient in technology. Youth making up Generation Z are diverse and are predicted to be independent thinkers and doers.
Goldman Sachs provides a good look at this new employee pool in their video- “Gen Z Matters More than Millennials.” Generation Z tends to be more financially conservative, associate money with success and is very aware of the financial consequences of their decisions.
According to The Global Gender Gap Report 2016 by the World Economic Forum, there remains a wide gap between women and men in economic participation and opportunity. When we look at the overall Global Gender Gap Index, Canada was ranked #35, while the United States was only #45. The U.S. ranking dropped due to the decrease in economic participation and opportunity score, with a sizeable gap in estimated earned income.
The Global Gender Gap Report notes the positive effect of increasing gender parity on economic growth – “Making full use of women’s capabilities paves the way to optimizing a nation’s human capital potential.” (p. 27)
In the AgCareers.com Gender Roles and Equality in Agribusiness Survey, women were asked if they felt they would be given more advancement opportunities if they were male. The majority, 72% felt they would be. So, are women content where they are at or do they want to pursue advancement?
The flexibility an organization and position provides is often directly related to a positive workplace atmosphere and employee satisfaction. My professional career has included work for several different organizations, while I also had experiences with internships and high school/college jobs. I’ve experienced stark contrasts, from a strictly scheduled business to a very flexible workplace.
At one job the door locked at 8 am, so you’d better get there early, and a buzzer signaled the beginning and end of each break time (no this wasn’t a factory, it was an office). One where you were required to use all your PTO for maternity leave, with no way to accrue more until the next year. Or another where you had to use vacation time when there was a death in the family as they hadn’t developed a bereavement policy.
On the other end of the spectrum, one employer encouraging you to volunteer with community organizations during work time. Another where you could come in ahead of the start time in order to leave early to attend a personal event. One offering the flexibility to work in a professional capacity part-time to balance the needs of a young, growing family. Without hesitation, I can tell you I’ve been the happiest when and where I had the most flexible workplace. You may wonder if this is just a personal story, but there is research to back up the power of workplace flexibility.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I have a unique job where I get to do a lot of different things daily. Primarily, I do graphic design for AgCareers.com, so this includes handouts and flyers, brochures, mailers, e-blasts, reports, infographics, social media graphics, basically anything the team needs that involves anything graphical. I also handle a share of social media tasks like creating content and posting the jobs that you see on our social media. And I get to do some video production and a variety of writing on the blogs, the newsletter, through the Career Guide, and creating surveys.
What do you enjoy about working here?
I love my job. I appreciate that my job is not just one sector of agriculture, but is all-encompassing of the industry. I feel so fortunate to come to work every day and get to do what I love for the industry that I love. I also love creating. And I feel genuine doing so. I grew up on a farm, and my husband and I farm, so coming from this industry and getting to support it through my daily work is and has always been my dream. All my passions fit into one job, which I think is pretty rare to find in a career.
The agricultural industry continues to grow through diverse opportunities. There are more job opportunities in agriculture than there are graduates to fill them. Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with two-year degrees, technical diplomas, and certifications to fill these roles. “Two-year/technical graduates are very valuable to our organization,” shared Tara Tench, Assistant HR Manager, Southern States Cooperative, Inc. “The talent we are looking for are not always found in four-year graduates; many two-year schools offer the types of agricultural degrees that we are looking for along with the skill sets needed for many of our positions.”
Welders, electricians, mechanics, and truck drivers are a few typical roles that we often think as skilled trade opportunities. However, candidates with associates’ degrees or technical certifications from two-year schools are often a good fit for roles such as research assistant, sales, technician, executive assistant, operations and customer service to name just a few. In addition to drivers and mechanics, Southern States Cooperative has also filled positions in their retail stores with community college graduates, in roles that sell crop products, precision ag services, and products for livestock, like feed and animal health supplies.