Purdue News

April 7, 2005

Report: Ag graduates with business, management skills in demand

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Employers in food, agriculture and natural resources will be competing for students with management and business skills over the next five years, according to a report published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Purdue University.

The publication, "Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in the U.S. Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, 2005-2010," is a publication that forecasts demands for graduates with certain skills. The report is based on statistics produced by the USDA, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics.

"Employers are looking for students with strong technical and communication skills and who can work well in team environments," said Allan Goecker, associate director of academic programs in Purdue Agriculture and principal author of the report. "Strong business skills are also an important asset for which employers are searching."

Annual job openings for students with expertise in food, agriculture and natural resources are expected to be around 52,000, with slightly more than 49,300 skilled graduates. Graduates will find the most opportunities in business and management, with 24,000 annual openings and 20,200 qualified applicants.

The careers with the greatest demand will be sales and marketing, food safety and biosecurity, food system biotechnologies ,and consumer information technologies.

"Demand will be down for jobs that offer services to producers," Goecker said. "Weaker opportunities will also exist for education, communication and government services jobs because more than enough qualified graduates are expected."

The report identifies four major factors that will influence employment opportunities over the next five years:

• Changing U.S. population demographics will continue to add employment opportunities in health and life sciences.

• Continued business mergers will have an impact on available job openings.

• Advancements in science and technology will create jobs for students with strong technical skills.

• Food security and environmental issues will remain key topics and provide job opportunities.

"The report should help students make good career plans," Goecker said. "It's a longer term outlook about what will be in demand for the next five years and possibly longer."

The report underscores the job market for Purdue Agriculture graduates. Nearly 91 percent of food, agriculture and natural resources graduates were employed or were continuing education four months after graduation in 2004, Goecker said.

In 2004 the annual average starting salary for agricultural and food engineering graduates was $46,733, $35,160 for food science and manufacturing, $33,038 for agribusiness management, and $26,919 for natural resources management.

The report co-authors were Jeffrey Gilmore, Ella Smith and P. Gregory Smith of the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

The full report is available online.

Writer: Molly Brock, 765-496-2761, brockml@purdue.edu

Source: Allan Goecker, 765-494-8473, goecker@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes, forbes@purdue.edu
Agriculture News Page


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