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.
Ag employers have consistently hired for careers that require a high school, skilled trade, or associate’s diploma. In fact, when we examine all positions posted where an education level was specified, half didn’t require a bachelor’s degree. When AgCareers.com asked ag employers in the HR Review what education level was most desired, a two-year college degree was top, followed closely by a high school diploma.
While the majority of AgCareers.com 2017 applicants had a bachelor’s degree or higher (63%); there still was a large proportion (37%) with college/associate, skilled trade, and high school diplomas.
Agricultural employers have consistently looked for top talent with agribusiness experience or skilled training. Experienced candidates are searching for new opportunities, as illustrated by applicant data from our 2017 Agribusiness Job Report; 46% of job seekers had greater than five years of work experience. Furthermore, the majority of this experience is directly related to agriculture; more than half of 2017 applicants were in ag occupations, and 8% were ag students.
Maintenance, welders, technicians, electricians, and truck drivers are a few typical roles that we often think as skilled trade opportunities. However, candidates with associates’ degrees or technical certifications are often a good fit for roles such as custom applicators, animal caretakers, research assistants, sales, machinists, IT, and customer service to name just a few.
Skilled trade talent sometimes lacks opportunities for traditional career fair and campus engagement. It’s important for employers to network with local schools to develop relationships to feed the pipeline of skilled talent.
This networking may take place at the high school level through guidance counselors, ag science and industrial education teachers, FFA and 4-H leadership. At the community college level, networking with career counselors, instructors and clubs can support recruitment.
Many organizations use formal internship programs to attract students. Internships are becoming more commonplace and of increasing importance to two-year and technical students. Employers may post their internship openings on the AgCareers.com site for FREE! We also email a monthly Skill & Trade Newsletter to 55,000-plus candidate subscribers.
Ask your talent solutions manager about posting your free internship and how your position can be featured in the Skill & Trade Newsletter. If you would like to be added to our Skilled Trade email list, please send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.