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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:

Nationally recognised training for the Agriculture industry is delivered under the AHC – Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package.

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

Information sourced from the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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 2015–18 and particularly from 2017 to 2018. In 2017 there were about 45,240 enrolments but this decreased to around 35,420 in 2018. Similarly, program completions have fallen between 2017 and 2018 after being fairly stable between 2015 and 2017. 

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the top generic skills for Agriculture are:

  • Learning agility/ information literacy/ intellectual autonomy and self-management (adaptability)
  • Managerial/leadership
  • Financial
  • Technology
  • Science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) skills.

Job vacancy demand data for this industry indicates that the top generic skill in demand by employers is communication skills followed by physical demand. The top occupation in demand was Mixed Crop and Livestock Farm Workers.

Key macro forces that currently challenge and provide opportunities for the industry’s sectors and its workforce include:

  • The agricultural workforce is ageing with a little under a half of the workforce aged fifty years or more.  
  • The industry has an immediate and ongoing labour shortfall. The job market for graduates in the industry currently outstrips the supply of graduates which is a challenge for the industry.
  • Climate has an impact on the industry and there are indications that the potential for extreme weather events is increasing.
  • There are new and emerging markets being developed that use plants and wildlife more suited to Australian conditions which in turn is leading to an interest in wild cultivation and traditional land management.  
  • The complexity of issues facing farmers has led to a need for potential solutions to apply to the farm. This has led to a demand for agronomy skills as a conduit between research and application on the farm.
  • There are emerging industries and technologies in agriculture but a gap in consumers capacity to understand and accept the technologies.
  • China’s Belt and Road Initiative will drive competition in the commercial sectors of the industry and potentially create opportunities to reach and service international markets.

The project, Horizon Scanning: Opportunities for New Technologies and Industries has identified emerging technologies and potential new industries that could emerge from the new technologies. Thirty-nine technologies were identified across six domains. Examples of the technologies include:

  • Smart dust
  • Plant genome sequencing
  • Collaborative robots
  • Blockchain
  • Perovskite solar cells
  • Programmable materials.

Some examples of potential emerging industries identified were:

  • Cell cultured meat
  • Microgrid P2P energy
  • Acellular agriculture
  • Wild camel harvesting
  • Medicinal Marijuana
  • Hemp milk.

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

Horizon Scanning: Opportunities for New Technologies and Industries – Agrifutures

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

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

Arboriculture Australia

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

Farm Biosecurity

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, 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

Sheep Producers 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 2019 Skills Forecast. Each IRC has prioritised and ranked the generic skills.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labour Insight Real-time Labour Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 01 Agriculture
Updated: 28 Oct 2019
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