An Australian first study has found that changing how community members view a career in agriculture, fisheries or forestry, could hold the key to securing a reliable and dynamic rural industries workforce for the future.
The research, undertaken as part of AgriFutures Australia’s Community Perceptions and Worker Experiences Research Program, involved surveying more than 5,000 people to understand the key drivers of workforce retention and attraction across rural industries.
AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey said the research is a game changer for the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.
“We now have data on what workers want from a career in rural industries, why people have left the workforce and what will attract more workers from other sectors,” Mr Harvey said.
“What is clear from the results is that rural industry workers are much more positive about a career in the sector than those from the community.
“Many community perceptions about working in rural industries are still based on stereotypes, such as having to live regionally or work in a paddock with livestock or crops.”
Other key insights from the research, include:
- 18% of community members surveyed believe that Australian rural industries have not changed much in the last 50 years.
- 54% of workers surveyed intend to stay in rural industries for more than 10 years.
- 70% of workers think there are meaningful careers in rural industries.
- 69% of workers surveyed said that they agree/strongly agree that new technologies will make rural industries a more attractive career in the future.
Voconiq CEO and lead researcher for the study, Dr Kieren Moffat, said the data shows the importance of closing the gap to align the perceptions of community members and workers more closely.
“The data suggests this gap can be closed if community members can learn more about the actual experiences of rural industry workers to develop a more realistic understanding of what a role in one of these industries can look like.
“There is also an education component to help potential recruits understand that agricultural, fisheries and forestry jobs can be based in a metropolitan area, involve working with advanced technologies, and be office-based,” he said.
“Importantly 13% of community members surveyed said they are very or extremely likely to consider working in rural industries. That represents at least 1.7 million people which is a huge number considering the current rural industries workforce is around 280,000 people.”
The Community Perceptions and Worker Experiences Research Program delivers key insights into community perceptions on working in agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries, and explore worker experiences and the impact it has on workforce attraction and retention.
The Project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and is a component of the Australian Government’s AgATTRACT initiative.
To see the research findings, visit Community Perceptions and Worker Experiences Program | AgriFutures Australia.