A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report that projects strong employment opportunities for new college graduates interested in agriculture and related fields opened with a cautionary preface. Termed “A 2020 Pandemic Note,” it stated that the underlying study and preparation for the report began in September 2019, “when global socio-economic conditions were much different from today.” It stated that fewer than the average annual number of employment opportunities would be realized in 2020, but that the team writing the report “anticipates expanding employment opportunities in 2021 and during the remainder of the period if the pandemic can be controlled.”
The authors of the report are J. Marcos Fernandez, Allan D. Goecker and Christine A. Wilson of Purdue University; Ella Smith of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Emma R. Moran of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Following are some key messages from the report:
In the United States between 2020 and 2025, employment opportunities will remain strong for new college graduates with interest and expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment. An average of approximately 59,400 openings annually reflects a 2.6 percent improvement in open job positions over the past five years.
The major employment areas for new college graduates will be in management and business (approximately 24,700 positions) and in science and engineering (approximately 18,400 positions), making up 42 percent and 31 percent, respectively, of anticipated openings.
Employment opportunities in food and biomaterials production (approximately 7,900 positions) and the education, communications and government services sectors (approximately 8,400 positions) account for 13 percent and 14 percent, respectively, of jobs available for new college graduates in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment.
Compared with the previous five-year report, a decline is projected in the proportion of job openings in management and business (42 percent vs. 46 percent), and an increase in job opportunities for college graduates with expertise in science and engineering (31 percent vs. 27 percent) and in the relative proportion of job openings in education, communication and government services (14 percent vs. 12 percent).
In the United States, between 2020 and 2025, the number of new college graduates annually seeking employment opportunities in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment will remain strong (approximately 59,400). Graduates from degree programs in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment will comprise approximately 61 percent (36,100) of the new graduate pool.
Graduates with allied degrees — degree specializations offered by public and private non-profit higher education programs in biological sciences, engineering, health sciences, business, communication, etc. — who are expected to compete for employment with higher education graduates in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and the environment, will comprise 39 percent (23,300) of the new graduate supply pool. These figures include graduates with baccalaureate and post-graduate and professional degrees.
See the full report here.
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