The Agricultural Industry: Jobs, Skills, Trends and Job Outlook
The agricultural jobs market includes jobs connected with plant and animal production, silviculture (i.e. the growing and cultivation of trees), fishing and fish farming, as well as all jobs related to the processing of agricultural products.
Agricultural workers therefore include farmers and breeders, agronomists, botanists, farm workers and nursery workers.Job vacancies in the agricultural sector require a wide range of skills - some jobs call for manual skills and the ability to use specific agricultural tools, equipment and machinery, while others require technical and academic training (for example in Agronomy, Animal Husbandry or Botany).
The agricultural industry employs both permanent and temporary workers. While permanent workers are employed mainly in activities related to the day-to-day running of farms, livestock holdings and food processing plants, as well as in agritech research and development, the majority of temporary (or casual) workers are seasonal farmworkers hired to cope specifically with peak workloads - for example for picking fruit and vegetables or during the grape harvesting season.
What types of businesses operate in the agricultural industry?
There are a wide range of different companies offering work in the agricultural sector:
- Farms: e.g. single crop farms, farms producing cereal crops, fruit and vegetables and oil and fibre plant seeds, wine producers, etc.
- Livestock and poultry holdings (cows, pigs, sheep, chickens) producing meat and dairy products
- Fishing and fish farming: sea and freshwater fishing businesses, as well as aquaculture (the farming of aquatic organisms)
- Food companies involved in the transformation of plant and animal materials into food, e.g. the wine and the dairy and cheese industries
There are of course a great many other types of company connected to the agriculture and agri-food sector. There are, for example, chemical and pharmaceutical businesses that produce fertilizers, pesticides and veterinary products and companies working in the seed production industry or conducting research into animal and plant genetics. The sector also includes nurseries, wholesalers and retailers of agricultural and garden products, cereal crops and animal feed, logistics companies providing transport, storage and distribution services for plant and animal products, and producers of machinery for the agriculture and livestock sectors.
Companies hiring in the agricultural sector:
Agricultural Industry - Trends and Job Outlook
The overall number of workers employed in the agricultural industry is on the decline, due to a fall in the demand for unskilled labour caused by the increasing use of automated machinery.
There are still, however, a large number of promising sectors in the agricultural industry that offer interesting career opportunities for skilled workers. Among these is the agri-food R&D sector, which involves research into soils, crops, feed and genetic resources, as well as work to develop innovative applications of animal and plant materials (for example, biofuel).Scientists, technicians and food technologists are also involved in developing a wide range of new agricultural technologies, including smart irrigation systems that employ electronic sensors and innovative food safety systems and processes.
With the global population rising steadily - and with it the demand for food - the challenges currently facing the agricultural sector are of vital importance. A balance needs somehow to be struck between, on the one hand, the drive towards increased productivity, and on the other, the need for more sustainable food supply chains, offering healthy, quality products, that consume less water, have a lower environmental impact and do not endanger biodiversity.
What skills are required in the agricultural sector?
Here are some of the transversal skills required for job vacancies in the agricultural industry:
New agricultural and livestock technologies have a crucial role to play in the future of the agricultural sector. Farmers and breeders stand to gain huge competitive advantages by adopting innovative technologies and processes, while agricultural workers who are able to learn to use the new tools and machinery will ensure they remain competitive on the jobs market.
Time management and work organization skills are essential for anybody involved in running or working on a farm. Whether you’re working in the fields or with livestock, there are certain daily tasks that simply can’t be put off and deadlines that can’t be ignored. The same goes for the processing and transportation of agricultural and animal products, where careful planning is a must.
A passion for agrotech
Science and technology may have profoundly transformed the way we work, but in farming, livestock breeding and fishing, many jobs still have a significant manual component. But as the work can at times be very demanding - calling for physical stamina and an ability to adapt to the earth’s natural cycles (e.g. animal and plant production cycles and the changing of the seasons) - a real passion for the industry is an essential requirement.
Agriculture - Job Descriptions
Interested in finding out more about jobs in the Agricultural sector?
Take a look at the job descriptions we’ve prepared: