Agriculture could be the savior of record youth unemployment in WA with more than five jobs available per agriculture graduate in Australia, according to Charles Sturt University.
Youth unemployment in Western Australia is at its highest in 20 years, sitting at 14.5 per cent.
A recent study by Charles Sturt University showed that there were at least 4000 employment advertisements in agriculture in each year from 2010 to 2019 and therefore upward of five jobs available per graduate.
Western Australian Department of Education principal consultant of agricultural education Alysia Kepert said there was high demand for workers in the agriculture industry.
“It is the most important and expanding industry of all,” she said.
“After all, it is the one that feeds the world.
“Employment opportunities exist all along the supply chain, not just on farms. We need to be able to produce more food of better quality using less land as our population grows.”
She said the inclusion of agricultural studies in the secondary school curriculum was key in promoting opportunities in agriculture to young people, also making them familiar with the prospects in horticulture, fisheries, fibre and food.
One school that has done this is Great Southern Grammar in WA’s south west.
GSG offers ATAR and general WACE courses in animal production systems for years 11 and 12, as well as a food and fibre program for years kindergarten to 10.
The school uses its 58ha property to run beef, viticulture, aquaculture, horticulture and aquaponics programs.
Great Southern Grammar agriculture teacher Julian Gugenheim said the program cultivated an interest in agriculture among the students and opened their eyes to the magnitude of opportunities available to young people.
“I have had parents come up to me and say thank you,” he said.
“The program has provided opportunities in agriculture that students would not have considered before doing the program, and it’s encouraged many students to pursue further study and careers in agriculture.”
Women in Farming Enterprises ex-president Anna-Lisa Newman has children at boarding school at GSG and is a strong supporter of the agriculture program there.
“We need to cultivate an appreciation for the fundamental things such as agriculture that we take for granted,” she said.
“Agriculture programs in schools are vital in promoting possible careers, giving those interested an opportunity to learn about the industry and provides a way for those who are not from a farming background to get into an agriculture career.”