Developing a quality workforce

Prosperous agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries require an educated and motivated workforce. Production and processing systems require employees with a full range of formal education, academic disciplines, and industry experience. In addition to excellence in general education, high achieving agriscience and forestry programs that target contemporary industry based competencies are required at the high school, community college, and university level. Careers in agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries exist across the entire spectrum of education and training. Many agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries are experiencing a critical shortage of reliable, legal workers.

The continued growth of Alabama’s agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries will rely upon the next generation of leaders who possess a passion for agriculture and forestry. The federal H2A program fills fewer than 60,000 jobs nationally out of a total of more than 3,030,000 jobs in agriculture. The H2A program is temporary and seasonal, thus not suitable for many sectors of the agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries. Nationally, only 1.9% of farm jobs are currently certified for H2A workers.

Goals

  1. Increase the number of young people seeking a career in the agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries at all levels of educational training
  2. Increase the number of agriscience programs in Alabama high schools and FFA youth
  3. Increase the number of youth enrolled in Alabama 4-H agriculture and forestry programs.
  4. Ensure that Extension programs are readily available to guide farm and forestry families on successful intergenerational transfer of business assets.
  5. Eliminate unwarranted bureaucratic barriers that discourage business expansion and effectiveness of labor programs such as H2A/H2B.

Actions

  1. Recommend that the State Board of Education ensure that workforce development programs include information to increase career awareness in agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries among public school students.
  2. Ask Governor Bentley to petition Alabama’s congressional delegation and state legislators to enact common sense legislation and regulatory reforms that ensure a reliable source of seasonal laborers under an efficient and fair H2A/H2B program.
  3. Recommend that by 2020 the Alabama Department of Education and school districts increase the number of agriscience programs by 15%.
  4. Propose legislation requiring universities and community colleges to develop 2 plus 2 programs in forestry and agriculture.
  5. Land grant universities will engage agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industry leaders to ensure that educational programs teach skills that are relevant to contemporary industry needs.
  6. Extension will provide youth career awareness programs to increase youth passion for careers in the agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries
  7. Establish private sector internship programs for high school, community college, and university students interested in agriculture and forestry careers.
  8. Fund a multipurpose livestock exhibition and educational center to encourage youth involvement in agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries.
  9. Work with the Alabama Community College System to offer agriculture and forestry programs that include “earn and learn” programs or other on the job programs.
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