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Agriculture

Overview

Agriculture is another name for farming and there are two types of products produced in agriculture: plants and livestock.

Sectors in the industry

Plant Farming

  • Grain growing
  • Fodder growing
  • Sugar cane growing
  • Cotton growing
  • Seed production

Livestock Farming

  • Sheep farming
  • Beef cattle farming
  • Dairy cattle farming
  • Poultry farming
  • Other livestock farming

Agricultural Support Services

  • Shearing and classing
  • Grain storage services
  • Wholesaling
  • Irrigation

Employer profile for the industry

In 2016, the industry included more than 164,429 agricultural businesses, 69% of which were non-employing farms (not employing staff), and 29% of which were employing fewer than 20 people.

 Around 75% of these businesses were beef cattle farmers, mixed-crop livestock farmers, fruit growers, cereal grain growers, sheep farmers, sheep or beef farmers and dairy cattle farmers.

Source: Skills Impact Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Industry Sector Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017–2020

Typical features of the workforce

There are 288,600 people working in the agricultural sector and a further 17,000 working in agricultural wholesaling.

  • The agriculture and conservation and land management industry sector is a significant employer of people in regional and remote areas. The industry workforce is ageing, with agriculture businesses employ a significant number of people aged between 60 and 80+. Just over half of the agriculture sector workforce was aged 50 years and over in 2011.

Source: Skills Impact Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Industry Sector Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017–2020

  • There are 58,400 farm workers in employment across all sectors, and this number is expected to fall slightly by 2020. Women make up below 40% of the workforce, and about 65% of work is full time. The most common level of education attainment is Year 11.
  • There are 142,000 farmers in employment, and this number is expected to fall slightly by 2020. Women make up less than around 33% of the workforce.  More than 75% of work is full time. The most common level of education attainment is Year 11.

Source: Australian Government Job Outlook website

Emerging sectors, future growth

Opportunities in the sector are provided by the importance of food security globally and by higher demand for food in expanding markets, such as the Asia Pacific region.

Climate change and soil degradation are factors that agricultural producers will increasingly have to deal with. There are opportunities for adapting to the impacts of changed weather patterns through improved farming technologies and practices.

Agriculture is an important part of the Australian economy and is a net exporter sector. Opportunities to increase market access can extend beyond free trade agreements, through the building of brand awareness of Australia as a globally recognised producer of safe, clean food and fibre products.

Source: Skills Impact Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Industry Sector Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work 2017–2020

Jobs in Demand

Agricultural Consultant/Scientists have been identified as being a recruitment difficulty on the Skill Shortage List Australia 2016, Department of Jobs and Small Business. There are large numbers of qualified applicants overall but significant proportions of vacancies are unfilled due to factors like location and specialist skill needs.

Licensed occupations and registrations

Work Health and Safety (WHS) is important in all workplaces. Safe Work Australia provides links to all state and territory information.

Want to look in detail at some related sectors?

Key Occupations

Assistant Cattle Farmhand

Assistant Sheep and Grain Farmhand

Farmhand (Grain)

Station Hand (Sheep and Wheat)

Assistant Piggery Attendant

This industry is positioned in the following groups

Industry

Gardening, Farming, Animals & Environment

Work Type

Practical & Manual

Analytic & Scientific

Ready to see where Agriculture can take you?

Career Pathways

Agriculture has career pathways from Certificate II through to Diploma. Look at the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Job Pathway Chart to see what is of interest.

Job Pathway Chart

Practice Aptitude Quiz

This resource illustrates the maths and literacy needed to complete the entry level training in this sector.

Download The Quiz

Support Services

Further Research

Information

Industry information is published by peak level associations, government and major employers.  Accessing industry association sites, including member lists, is a good way of building up an understanding of an industry.  Visiting employer websites and looking for careers or employment menus helps identify how employers recruit and the skills they are recruiting.

Use Google to search for the associations and organisations listed below.

  • Barley Australia
  • Pulse Australia
  • Canegrowers
  • Rice Growers’ Association of Australia
  • Cotton Australia
  • Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders
  • Deer Industry Association of Australia
  • Egg Farmers Australia
  • Australian Honey Bee Industry Council Inc.
  • Goat Industry Council of Australia
  • Shearing Contractors Association of Australia