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A degree in ag – the good news in education

We are gaining a bit of media coverage this week. We were featured on Digital Farm TV and also ABC Rural’s Victoria Country Hour  – all in relation to the press release below:

Click here for ABC Victoria Country Hour audio.

Click here for the Digital Farm TV vision.

Students enjoy fast track to big careers and strong salaries in Agriculture

Despite all the bad news on youth unemployment and escalating University fees, Agriculture has emerged as the good news story of the current education shake up, with unheralded career prospects, accessible ATAR scores and above average graduate salaries.

A 2014 survey conducted by Rimfire Resources of 140 agribusiness companies representing more than 13,000 people, showed that 44% of agribusiness employees lived in the city, not on the farm, and were enjoying graduate salaries surpassing Law, Accounting, Economics and Paramedical Studies.

With almost 16% of Australia’s 15-24 year olds currently unemployed, Charles Sturt University’s Research Professor of Agriculture Jim Pratley, says school leavers face bright futures and are effectively guaranteed employment if they study Agriculture.

“An analysis by the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture of the Graduate Careers Australia data for the decade 2003 – 2012 shows full-time employment rates for graduates between 85 and 95%,” he said.

“Students are being bombarded by messages that they won’t be able to afford a University education and if they do manage to graduate, there are no jobs out there for them to pay off their student fees. This is simply not the case.”

Professor Pratley said many people had the impression that a degree in Agriculture meant a job as a farmer.

“This is also a misconception, Agriculture offers a rich range of career paths. Our graduates are developing cutting edge technology to address some of the critical issues in our world, like food security and climate change. It is an exciting and vibrant industry.”

Sarah Payne is an Assistant Manager for ANZ Bank in Regional Business Banking based in Warrnambool, Victoria.

She completed a Bachelor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne in 2011 and a Graduate Certificate in Economics Studies at Monash University in 2012.

Originally from a sheep, cattle and cropping property in Kilmore, Victoria, when Sarah left school she knew she wanted to be involved in agriculture, but wasn’t sure how.

“I didn’t always know the exact career pathway I wanted to follow but have always had an admiration for the people in industry and knew I wanted to work amongst them.”

Her agriculture degree offered her a taste of many different subjects, allowing her to decide what industry she would be most interested in.

“I liked the broad structure of the course which enabled me to explore different avenues from Soil Science to Resource Economics,” she said.

And she often had to field the question that she was studying agriculture to become a farmer.

“The common misconception I encountered through my studies was that studying Ag led to becoming a farmer, however there are numerous pathways students can follow with agriculture being at the foundation, including Agribusiness, Agronomy, Plant, Animal and Food Science and Resource Economics.”

Sarah believes her agriculture qualification made her a desirable commodity in the employment market.

“Industry was definitely supportive and interested due to the high demand and limited supply of agri graduates. ANZ valued my previous study of Agriculture which positively complemented the training they provided in Agribusiness Banking,” she said.

Sarah encourages students contemplating their study paths to consider agriculture, whether they come from the land or not.

“I think there are some great leaders in Agriculture and from my experience the industry has always encouraged young people to get involved if they express a keen interest, regardless of whether they have grown up on a farm or not.”

The Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture has set up Career Harvest (careerharvest.com.au) to highlight the myriad pathways possible from an education in agriculture. The site also features nearly $2.5 million in scholarships and internship opportunities.