Report: Food and Ag Industries, Educational Institutions Need New Talent to Meet Demand in STEM Fields

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Emerging Careers Enable Millennials to Address Global Food Security Challenge

A new report released today identifies a growing gap between the supply of new graduates trained in agriculture-related STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and the demand for young professionals in related roles by global food and agriculture employers. The report recommends that the food and agriculture industries work closely with educational institutions on closing the employment gap necessary to sustainably feed an expected global population of nine billion people by 2050.

The report, released today at the World Food Prize 2014 Borlaug Dialogue, includes a detailed analysis of university enrollment and workforce trends in six agriculture fields: agricultural business and management, agriculture mechanization and engineering, animal sciences, plant and soil science, food science and technology and other life sciences.

The STEM Food & Ag Council, a project of STEMconnector®, found substantial career opportunities in the food and agriculture industries for the next generation of young people and calls on Millennials to
pursue STEM education. Key findings from the report include:

  • From January to August 2014, the food and agriculture industries hired nearly 34,000 people per month.
  • A quarter of current food and agriculture professionals are age 55 or older, meaning that workforce attrition will create additional opportunities for young professionals to advance in their careers.
  • A 4.9 percent aggregate growth in STEM employment opportunities in advanced agriculture fields is projected over the next five years, adding 33,100 new positions.

Commenting on the findings in the new report, Iowa Lieutenant Governor and STEM Food & Ag Council Chair Kim Reynolds said, “We live in a knowledge-based, global economy, and it is critical that our students be prepared for the jobs and opportunities of the 21st century, and that the food and agriculture sector can meet its growing demand for young professionals.”

“Meeting the ever-increasing global demand for food will require a whole new generation of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Paul Schickler, DuPont Pioneer president and STEM Food & Ag Council vice chair. “The opportunities are growing, but we must apply new solutions to fill these critical jobs in the long term.”

Five young professionals in the food and agriculture industries were profiled in this year's report. “Agriculture is increasingly global and information-based, which is as exciting at the farm gate as it is in international agribusiness,” said Andrew Lauver, the 24-year-old Frank Ross International Emerging Leader at DuPont Pioneer. “There are so many opportunities for people my age to make a real impact and travel the world as a part of the solution to global hunger and poverty.”

The report includes recommendations on closing the human capital gap and provides an annual snapshot of the workforce supply and demand for each of the identified programs.

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  • The 2014 STEM Food & Ag Council Report is being presented at the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, October 16, 2014, at 2:45 PM CDT
  • The full 2014 STEM Food & Ag Council Report is available on 10/16 at
  • Follow the event on Twitter: #STEMFoodAg, @STEMConnector

About The STEM Food & Ag Council
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Food & Ag Council is a unique public-private partnership dedicated to engaging the next generation in careers in the food and agricultural workforce. The Council has the bold vision of developing the requisite human capital that will drive the innovation to feed 9 billion people by 2050. Following the completion of its first year of existence, the STEM Food & Ag Council releases a report on nationwide agriculture workforce, business, and education trends. The STEM Food & Ag Council’s members include professionals from ADM, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, Iowa State University, Monsanto, the National 4-H Council, National FFA Organization, and PepsiCo. Council activities are facilitated by STEMconnector®, an organization dedicated to engaging diverse stakeholders to improve outcomes in education and raise awareness about STEM careers.

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Catherine Pepper

John Gordon