February’s meeting will feature Dr. Scott Sheely, of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, reporting on workforce initiatives in Pennsylvania. You do not want to miss this informative presentation. It will be of interest to all in agriculture or with a concern about the future of employment and training in PA. Through this workforce development initiative, the department has assessed the present employment picture in agriculture and food industries, and it has developed a forecast for the next 10 years.
Today, there are almost half a million Pennsylvania jobs tied to these industries. By 2025, almost 75,000 of these positions will have job openings. Of those anticipated vacancies, the department has identified the 25 most in-demand occupations, which span sectors like production agriculture; animal health and veterinary services; landscaping; food manufacturing, forestry, lumber and wood products; and conservation and natural resources.
- The department is pursuing the workforce development initiative to…
- Identify demand-driven career pathways and agriculture and food-related occupations,
- Marshal substantial resources that already exist in a variety of systems,
- Identify gaps in education and training,
- Focus on work-based learning including micro-credentials and apprenticeships as methods to fill those gaps, and
- Address the needs of young people and adults on the way to finding solutions to the shortage of talent in the near and long-term.
- Sheely adds, “If we ensure that students and others in the education system are aware of the career opportunities available in the agriculture and food industry, we can help them to connect the dots and see the limitless potential for future careers in the industry.”
As part of the initiative, the department is working with its sister agencies and educational institutions to evaluate the available agricultural education programs for students of all ages. Part of that evaluation is exploring opportunities for growing agricultural programs within the state’s community colleges. Sheely identified opportunities in Pennsylvania’s agricultural training system, noting that only eight of the 26 occupations facing a high demand for workers have formal education and training programs.