Report shows need for STEM talent to address global food security

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 16, 2014 -  A report released today at the World Food Prize 2014 Borlaug Dialogue identifies a growing gap between the supply of new graduates trained in agriculture-related science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and the demand for young professionals in related roles by global food and agriculture employers.

Lets Talk Food

The report, presented this afternoon by The STEM Food & Ag Council, a project of STEMconnector, recommends that the food and agriculture industries work closely with educational institutions on closing the employment gap necessary to sustainably feed an expected global population of 9 billion people by 2050.

It includes a detailed analysis of university enrollment and workforce trends in six agriculture fields: agricultural business and management, agriculture mechanization and engineering, animal sciences, plant and soil science, food science and technology, and other life sciences.

Related articles from World Food Prize Borlaug Symposium:

•           World Food Day puts focus on family farming

•           New GAP report shows agriculture productivity falling behind

The STEM Food & Ag Council found substantial career opportunities in the food and agriculture industries for the next generation of young people and calls on millennials to pursue STEM education.

The report's key findings show:

•           Food and agriculture industries hired nearly 34,000 people per month from January to August 2014.

•           One-fourth of current food and agriculture professionals are age 55 or older, so workforce attrition will create additional opportunities for young professionals to advance in their careers.

•           An aggregate growth of 4.9 percent in STEM employment opportunities in advanced agriculture fields is projected over the next five years, adding 33,100 new positions.

“We live in a knowledge-based, global economy, and it is critical that our students be prepared for the jobs and opportunities of the 21st century, and that the food and agriculture sector can meet its growing demand for young professionals,” said Iowa Lieutenant Governor and STEM Food & Ag Council Chair Kim Reynolds.

“Meeting the ever-increasing global demand for food will require a whole new generation of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Paul Schickler, DuPont Pioneer president and STEM Food & Ag Council vice chair. “The opportunities are growing, but we must apply new solutions to fill these critical jobs in the long term.”

The report profiled five young professionals in the food and agriculture industries. “Agriculture is increasingly global and information-based, which is as exciting at the farm gate as it is in international agribusiness,” said Andrew Lauver, the 24-year-old Frank Ross International Emerging Leader at DuPont Pioneer. “There are so many opportunities for people my age to make a real impact and travel the world as a part of the solution to global hunger and poverty.”

The report includes recommendations on closing the human capital gap and provides an annual snapshot of the workforce supply and demand for each of the identified programs.

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