“Empowering agricultural graduates for the job market: challenges for the HEIs and prospective employers”
By Associate Prof Alison Bailey, External Examiner (University of Reading)
Agriculture is a vital and successful industry worldwide. Globally forecasters are estimating a worldwide population explosion to over nine billion by the year 2050. To meet the demand for food and other products, agricultural production will have to significantly increase, more so than in the last 10,000 years. However, the relative importance of agriculture as part of developed, primarily western, economies is decreasing. Internationally, and conversely, there is new competition from other nations arising from factors such as increasing liberalisation of international trade in agri-food, huge changes in the demography of populations in developing nations, rapid advances in knowledge-based industries, and new and internationally shared concerns with regard to issues such as sustainable farming systems, the environment, food quality and safety, and animal welfare.
This talk will cover a number of areas, focused on the UK but with reference to the global market. First, a review of the agricultural industry. Second, the recent fall and rise of the agricultural education sector, examining concerns raised 10 years ago and the current situation today, with reflections on the future for the research and educational sector, and the students themselves. Fourth, it will outline the provision of agricultural education in the UK with particular reference to the University of Reading. Finally, reference is made to the employer perspective. Findings from a one day conference to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Farm Management Unit at Reading entitled ‘Educating managers for 21st century agriculture and the countryside’, which included speakers providing perspectives from the industry are highlighted. Although held 10 years ago, the issues raised then are still of relevance today.
Dr Alison Bailey is an Associate Professor in Agricultural Business Management and Director of the Farm Management Unit at the University of Reading. She studied at Aberystwyth University and has previously worked at Edinburgh and Cranfield Universities in the UK. The focus of Alison's current research is on the analysis of agricultural production systems encompassing: the financial and economic analyses of the impact on farm productivity of alternative farming systems and agri-environment policy strategy, and the investigation of farmer decision making processes and motivations. She also has an interest in the application of socio-economic principles and techniques for resource and environmental management, including environmental economic valuation, cost benefit analysis and accounting. She is Programme Director for the degree in Agricultural Business Management; with teaching focused on farm business management, including agricultural, rural development and agri-environment policy.