Young people choosing agriculture as a career is a continuing problem. At many of the sessions I facilitate in rural Australia it’s a burning topic – participants focus heavily on the students…
“How can we encourage high school students to consider ag?”
I have been giving the topic a lot of thought as my own children enter the university age – with two parents in the industry both are pursuing different career paths. During our sons primary school years we were in drought and by the age of 15 he said “who would want to be a farmer – look how stressed you two are.”
Hmmmm…. what is the impact of environment and are we targeted the wrong timing? Let’s take a bigger view of the issue. Who and what are the key influencers of children’s choice of career? A couple of ideas are front of mind for me.
1.Age – targeting high school students is too late. Values and beliefs are laid down by the time they are in high school, I believe the key time to influence thinking is earlier than this…. Start the process in primary school during formative years.
2. Teachers have a large impact on our children’s thinking – many teachers do not have an interest in, or understand agriculture. A friend recently told me about his daughter who had decided to study ag and how she was actively discouraged by not only the teachers but also the career councillor.
3. Parents… I am going to focus here on mothers (my mother had a big influence on my choices). I have worked with 100’s of women on farms over my career and sadly many of them are not very happy. They fall in love with a man, marry him, the farm, the family and the business. Some families embrace the daughter in law, however many do not. Many women live in someone else’s home which they can’t make their own, live on a shoe string budget and work very hard. Poor succession planning often alienates them further. These young mothers are a key influencer of their children during their formative years – what are the subconscious messages that are being passed on?
At a workshop recently one of the women told me she was not encouraging her children to farm.
Yes agriculture is not limited to farming – there are thousands of careers in the industry – is this message really getting out there and to the key influencers?
Lots of issues here … what we need is a new perspective – look at the impact of key influencers, timing, subconscious messages and some of the social fabric of how the industry operates.
What are your thoughts?
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