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Agriculture

Overview

This page provides high-level information and data on the Agricultural industry which comprises the following industry sectors:  Production Horticulture, Broadacre Farming, Livestock Farming, Mixed Crop and Livestock Farming, Agriculture Support Services and Agricultural Product Wholesaling.

Please visit the following pages for data specific to the following Agricultural sectors

Visit the following pages for more information on Amenity Horticulture and Land Management, Animal Care and Management, Food Production, Transport, Retail, and Hospitality industries.  

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Employment in the Agriculture industry declined by around a quarter between 2000 and 2018 and is expected to decline further until 2023.  

Program enrolments in Agriculture-related qualifications decreased over the period 2014–17. In 2017 there were around 48,000 enrolments and 12,000 qualification completions.

Industry insights on skills needs

 

According to the Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management IRC Skills Forecasts for 2017–20 and 2018–21, key macro forces that currently challenge and provide opportunities for the industry’s sectors and its workforce include:

  • The high level of regulation the industry operates under.
  • The significance of global food security and higher food demand in expanding markets such as the Asia Pacific region, which is being reflected in a number of government policies aimed at facilitating growth in the sector (e.g. free trade agreements). The challenge is for businesses to benefit from government program and policies by becoming export-ready, culturally literate and market savvy.
  • There are national and state/territory-based biosecurity policies and strategies to combat pests and diseases that could have a negative impact on production and access to markets.
  • An increasing level of international trade with about two thirds of total production being exported.
  • Climate change and its effects on agricultural crops and biosecurity will create both challenges and opportunities for many producers to capitalise on technology and increase collaboration in supply chains to support the development of more resilient crop varieties and large-scale farming systems.
  • Water and land availability, as the industry faces strains on access to freshwater, managing water resources more efficiently, population growth and urban expansion into farmland, and competing demands for land and resources. 
  • New global farming trends, including the growth of new food sources; improved pharmaceuticals related to, for example, bugs on food and agricultural waste; and new sources of stockfeed and fertiliser increasing international trade, create both challenges and opportunities for agricultural producers.
  • The role of research, innovation and applied technology in the development of precision agriculture technologies – for example, drones and new chemical solutions – that help growers to increase productivity.
  • The industry has an ageing workforce, with the proportion of the workforce aged over 60-years-old increasing from 2006 to 2016.
  • A significant number of the industry’s workforce occupy roles that are unique and specific to the relevant sub-sectors, such as Livestock and Crop Farmers, Farm Workers, Shearers, Agricultural and Horticultural Plant Operators, Nurserypersons and other Nursery Workers, and Gardeners.
  • The industry also employs a significant number of other occupations such as Clerical and Administrative Workers, Process Workers, Mobile Plant Operators, Road and Rail Drivers, Agricultural Scientists, and Veterinarians. 
  • Investment in new technology means there is less reliance on farm labour.
  • Seasonal nature of employment in the Agriculture industry means it is more appealing to seasonal workers from overseas, who are an important source of labour for the industry. The Pacific Islander Seasonal Worker Programme and skilled migrants from Asia and Africa are also sources of labour for Australian farms, but there are challenges due to migration policies and ongoing pressure on the government.

The 2018–21 Skills Forecast also identifies a range of priority skills including:

  • skills related to carbon farming
  • skills related to permaculture
  • skills in protected horticulture
  • skills in irrigation technology, design and processes
  • agriculture skills in data capture and analysis
  • skills for developing and implementing preventative biosecurity strategies within agribusinesses
  • skills related to agribusiness innovations and farmgate value adding
  • skills for compliance and regulation of medicinal crops
  • viticulture leadership and management skills. 

A digital skills and capability gap across the agriculture value chain was identified in the report Accelerating precision agriculture to decision agriculture: Enabling digital agriculture in Australia. Skill gaps were specifically identified in the areas of on-farm telecommunications, and data science and data culture.

The report Future job openings for new entrants by industry and occupation estimates that  there will be approximately 10,500 job openings per year for Farmers and Farm Managers over the forecast period 2017–24. Replacement demand (i.e job openings due to people leaving the occupation) is expected to account for about 63% of the job openings. This is due to the age of the workforce, although as noted in the report, Farmers and Farm Managers tend to work through to older ages.

Relevant research

2016 Agrifood talent report – Agricultural Appointments

Accelerating precision agriculture to decision agriculture: Enabling digital agriculture in AustraliaVarious authors, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Australia

Agricultural competitiveness white paper: stronger farmers, stronger economy – Australian Government

A workforce development strategy for the Australian cotton industry – Agrifood Skills Solution

Current knowledge on workforce issues in Victorian agriculture: primary industries policy discussion paper – Dr Lisa Cowan, Social Researcher with Rural Development and Transition Policy Unit

Empowering women in agriculture: Australia and beyond – Tess Marslen, Future Directions International

Food and agribusiness: a roadmap for unlocking value-added growth opportunities for Australia – CSIRO Futures

Future job openings for new entrants by industry and occupation – Shah C 2018

Industry outlook: agriculture, forestry and fishing – Australian Government, Department of Employment

National agriculture workforce development plan – National Farmers’ Federation

New immigrants improving productivity in Australian agriculture – Agrifutures Australia

Readiness to meet demand for skills: a study of five growth industries – Francesca Beddie, Mette Creaser, Jo Hargreaves, Adrian Ong, National Centre for Vocational Education Research

Report on South Australia's industry priority qualifications – South Australian Training and Skills Commission

Sector profile: agriculture, forestry and fishing – South Australian Training and Skills Commission

Transitioning regional economies – Productivity Commission

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Agribusiness Australia

Agricultural Supply Wholesaling

AgriFutures Australia

Almond Board of Australia

Animal Health Australia

Apple and Pear Australia Limited

Australasian Alpaca Breeders Association

Australia Wool Testing Authority

Australian Alpaca Association

Australian Asparagus Council

Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders

Australian Banana Growers' Council

Australian Blueberry Growers' Association

Australian Cane Farmers Association

Australian Chicken Growers' Council

Australian Cotton Ginners Association

Australian Cotton Shippers Association

Australian Custom Harvesters

Australian Dairy Farmers

Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme

Australian Dairy Industry Council

Australian Egg Corporation Limited

Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association

Australian Farm Institute

Australian Fodder Industry Association

Australian Honey Bee Industry Council Inc.

Australian Institute of Horticulture

Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association

Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters' Association

Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council

Australian Lot Feeders' Association

Australian Lychee Growers Association

Australian Macadamia Society Ltd

Australian Mango Industry Association

Australian Melon Association Inc.

Australian Mungbean Association

Australian Mushroom Growers’ Association Ltd

Australian Nut Industry Council

Australian Oilseeds Federation

Australian Olive Association

Australian Organic

Australian Organics Recycling Association

Australian Ostrich Association

Australian Pecan Growers Association Inc.

Australian Pig Breeders Association

Australian Pineapple Association

Australian Pork Limited

Australian Queen Bee Breeders’ Association

Australian Seed Federation

Australian Seeds Authority

Australian Society of Horticultural Science

Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology

Australian Sunflower Association

Australian Sweetpotato Growers Inc.

Australian Table Grape Association

Australian Vignerons

Australian Wool Exchange

Australian Wool Innovation

AUSVEG

Avocados Australia Ltd

AWTA Limited (Australian Wool Testing Authority)

Barley Australia

Bean Growers Australia

Biological Farmers Australia

Cane Harvesters

Canegrowers

Canola Association of Australia

Cattle Council of Australia

Cherry Growers Australia Inc.

Chestnuts Australia Inc.

Citrus Australia

Corporate Agriculture Australia

Cotton Australia

Cotton Research and Development Corporation

Crocodile Farmers Association of the Northern Territory

Crop Consultants Australia

Crop Pollination Association

Custard Apples Australia

Dairy Australia

Dairy Goat Society of Australia

Deer Industry Association of Australia

Dried Fruits Australia

Egg Farmers of Australia

Fertilizer Australia

Fisheries Research and Development Corporation

Flower Export Council of Australia

Goat Industry Council of Australia

Grain and Feed Trade Association

Grain Growers

Grain Producers Australia

Grain Trade Australia

Grains Research and Development Corporation

Green Roofs Australasia

Hazelnut Growers of Australia Inc

Honey Packers & Marketers Association of Australia Inc

Horticulture Innovation Australia

Hydroponic Farmers Federation

Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists

Institute of Australian Geographers

Irrigation Australia

LiveCorp 

Livestock Biosecurity Network Inc

Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association (LBRCA)

Local Government Tree Resources Association

Maize Association of Australia

Meat & Livestock Australia

National Farmers' Federation

National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme

National Herd Improvement Association of Australia Incorporated

National Irrigators’ Council

Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association

Onions Australia

Organic Federation of Australia

Passionfruit Australia Inc

Peanut Company of Australia

Persimmons Australia Inc

Pistachio Growers Association Inc

Plant Health Australia

Potato Processing Association of Australia

PrimeSafe

Protected Cropping Australia

Pulse Australia

Raspberries and Blackberries Australia

Regional Australia Institute

Rice Growers’ Association of Australia

Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

Rural Skills Australia

Shearing Contractors’ Association of Australia

Sheepmeat Council of Australia

South Australian Wine Industry Association

Soy Australia

Strawberries Australia Inc

Summerfruit Australia Limited

Sustainable Gardening Australia

The Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand

The Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network 

The Wine Grape Council of SA (WGCSA)

Tropical Exotic Fruit Australia

Utility Arborist Association Australia

Voice of Horticulture

Wheat Exports Australia

Wheat Quality Australia

Wine Australia

Wool Classers' Association of Australia

Wool Producers Australia

Employee associations 

The Australian Workers Union

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment, 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2022
    • 01 Agriculture
    • 052 Agriculture and Fishing Support Services.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 November 2018 http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit Industry, 2000 to 2018, May quarter
    • 01 Agriculture
    • 052 Agriculture and Fishing Support Services.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses, 2016 Program Enrolments by AHC – Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package.

Priority skills data has been extracted from Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management IRC's 2018 Skills Forecast. Each IRC has prioritised and ranked the generic skills.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2018, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2018, <https://www.burning-glass.com>.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2015 and June 2018 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 01 Agriculture
Updated: 06 Dec 2018
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