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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, Conservation and Land Management IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast and the Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast.

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

IRC and skills forecasts

IRCs now submit comprehensive Skills Forecasts to the AISC every 3 years, with abridged annual updates submitted in the intervening 2 years.

Industry cluster snapshot

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment and training snapshot

The long-term employment trend shows employment in the Agriculture industry declined by around a quarter between 2000 and 2019, before a rise in 2020 from around 283,3000 in 2019 to about 320,600 in 2020.  Agriculture and Fishing Support Services has fluctuated between 15,000 and 29,000 since 2000, with employment of around 21,600 in 2020. However, employment is expected to decline for the Agriculture industry to around 281,600 but increase for the Agriculture and Fishing Support Services industry to almost 26,000.  

Program enrolments in Agriculture-related qualifications decreased over the period 2015–19, most sharply between2017 and 2018. In 2017 there were about 45,240 enrolments but this decreased to around 35,420 in 2018. There were just over 35,220 program enrolments in 2019 Similarly, program completions fell between 2017 and 2018 after being fairly stable between 2015 and 2017 but rose slightly in 2019 to around 9890.

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.

The Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast outlines a number of factors shaping the Agriculture and Horticulture industries including:

  • Climate change, which is having an impact on agriculture in a number of ways including rising temperatures affecting livestock and crops, weather patterns affecting aquatic and terrestrial systems such as pollinating insects, and worsening storm intensity damaging crops and infrastructure
  • Drought, which has not only led to a downturn in the number of jobs, is underscoring the need for agricultural skills and knowledge as farmers priortise efficiency and productivity irrespective of conditions
  • Water security, driven by higher temperatures and more severe drought spells, has led to declining water availability but increasing demand, and intensifying water buying and trading. It is also prompting land use strategies that harness and hold moisture in soil profiles and sustainable farming practices
  • Recruitment challenges, which vary across the Agricultural and Horticultural industries, and are impacted by COVID-19 restrictions closing Australian borders, tightened skilled visa requirements, applicants lacking the required capabilities and experience, and access to local workers who are crucial to sustaining agricultural industries
  • Education and training needs in regional, rural and remote communities as these services are vital to educating, training and skilling local workers who are crucial to sustaining agricultural industries
  • Digital capabilities of the agricultural workforce, in particular challenges in encouraging and developing farmers’ networks and capabilities in using potential digital solutions.

Specific opportunities and challenges uniquely affecting the Agricultural and Horticultural industries are outlined on the Agribusiness, Agricultural Operations and Services or Production Horticulture sector pages

The Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management IRC’s 2020 Skills Forecast was researched and written during 2019 and early 2020. As such it does not include detailed responses to the COVID-19 situation. See the following section for links to industry and government responses to COVID-19.

The Australian agricultural sector plays a crucial role in the national economy. The potential for it grow into a $100 billion industry over the next decade is examined in The future of Australia’s agricultural workforce. Achieving this goal will depend on the sector’s ability to respond to unique industry-specific conditions and workforce requirements, as well as working collaboratively on shared challenges. These include growing sustainably, understanding the needs of future customers, unlocking the value of future technologies across the entire supply chain and attracting people and capital.

In response to changes in agricultural production and the workforce, the Australian Government committed to developing a National Agricultural Workforce Strategy in the 2019-20 Budget. The strategy will consider the challenges facing the industry and recommend potential actions to address the future workforce needs of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries, and the closely allied service and supply chain industry sectors. The actions will target school education, vocational education and training and higher education. The aim is to attract, retain and upskill domestic workforce, as well as identify where access to a migrant workforce will be necessary to meet industry needs.

The Agriculture Workforce Digital Capability Framework project investigated the digital capabilities required by agricultural workers in order to address any gaps in the ability to meet future demand. The project also provided a framework to develop education pathways for upskilling the agricultural workforce to better adopt technology. The Framework comprises several linked documents for use across the agricultural sector, including a self-assessment questionnaire and a training and curricula handbook for education and training providers.

Links and resources

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

Relevant research

2018 Victorian Employers Skills Survey – Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (factsheet) – Victorian Department of Education and Training

Accelerating Precision Agriculture to Decision Agriculture: Enabling Digital Agriculture in AustraliaVarious authors, Cotton Research and Development Corporation, Australia

Agribusiness workforce insights – South Australian Training and Skills Commission

Agriculture Workforce Plan – Victorian State Government

Analysis of Australian food security and the COVID-19 pandemic – ABARES

COVID-19 and the Horticultural Sector: Addressing the pending labour supply shortfall – Australian National University

Demand for farm workers: ABARES farm survey results 2018 - ABARES

Design and delivery of a Masterclass in Horticulture Business – International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, Volume 72, Number 4, 2019

Employment for seasonal workers in Queensland during the COVID-19 pandemic – Queensland Government

Empowering Women in Agriculture: Australia and Beyond – Tess Marslen, Future Directions International

Growing into the Future: Strategy 2019-2023 – Hort Innovation

Horizon Scanning: Opportunities for New Technologies and Industries – Agrifutures

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

Impacts of COVID-19 on Australian agriculture, forestry and fisheries trade - ABARES

Industry Outlook: Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing – Australian Government, Department of Employment

Industry updates for primary producers on COVID-19 – Primary Industries and Regions SA

National Agriculture Workforce Development Plan – National Farmers’ Federation

Queensland Horticulture Labour Demand: Results from GrowCom Labour Demand Survey – Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Report on South Australia's Industry Priority Qualifications – South Australian Training and Skills Commission

Snapshot of Australian agriculture 2020 – ABARES

Tasmania’s sustainable agri-food plan 2019-23 – Agrigrowth Tasmania

Transitioning Regional Economies – Productivity Commission

 

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 Association

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

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

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

Orana Foundation

Organic Federation of Australia

Passionfruit Australia Inc

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 Skills Australia

Shearing Contractors’ Association of Australia

Sheep Producers 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

Wine Australia

Wool Producers Australia

 

Employee associations 

Australian Workers Union (AWU)

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit industry, employment projections to May 2024
    • 01 Agriculture
    • 052 Agriculture and Fishing Support Services.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 August 2020, https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202020?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 2 and 3 digit Industry, 2000 to 2019, 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, 2019 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: 05 Nov 2020
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