Job Trends in Agriculture

By Bonnie Johnson, AgCareers.com

After staggering high unemployment rates in 2020, it dropped in 2021.

The vital global agricultural industry experienced strong hiring in 2021, with a 30% increase in jobs posted on AgCareers.com.

Globally, job postings in the swine industry on AgCareers.com increased by 6% in the past year. Looking at jobs by country, US swine jobs remained consistent, while Canadian swine jobs increased.

Recruitment & Retention

Whereas employment opportunities expanded, finding staff to fill these roles can be challenging.

Ag employers reported in the AgCareers.com 2021-2022 Agribusiness HR Review, that hourly/non-exempt positions were the most difficult role to fill. Adding to the competition for staff, more than half of employers said they plan to increase the size of their workforce over the next two years. Agricultural employers reported that competition for talent was their most concerning human resource matter, and retention practices will be a top focus for them in 2022.

In the HR Review, agricultural employers said their highest need was for candidates with a high school diploma, followed by a Bachelor’s degree, and an associate degree.

Examining AgCareers.com applications from 2021, 66% had a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

AgCareers.com draws applicant traffic from a range of majors and occupations both inside and outside of the agricultural industry. The majority of applicants had an ag-based degree (60%), with Ag Business remaining the most common. Fourteen percent of applicants were students, and 57% were currently or most recently employed in ag occupations. Over one-third of applicants had 10-plus years of experience.

Remote Work and Flexibility

One of COVID’s major influences on the job market was the remote and work-from-home trend. More than half of employers noted they had enhanced benefit or wellness offerings considering the pandemic, with work-from-home or flexible schedules reported as the most common alterations.

Not all industries or careers lend themselves to remote work, especially when we consider animal production. Employers should take into consideration that having non-essential personnel work from home, could help to reduce bio-security risks.

Even in the swine industry, however, there are some roles that can and were accomplished from home. The most common swine industry roles offering remote/work-from-home options on AgCareers.com were sales representatives and account managers.

Given the nature of swine production, remote work is challenging. However, alternative flexible staffing solutions are options to consider.

Nearly ½ of employers adopted a flexible staffing approach in 2021, with flexibility in schedule emerging as the top approach for flex staffing solutions. Another popular option for flexible staff is part-time or reduced schedules.

In direct response to the pandemic’s influence on work-from-home availability, needs and expectations, there was significant interest in remote positions. Worldwide, there were nearly 6,000 searches for “remote” on AgCareers.com, it is one of the most popular keyword search terms on the site.

Most common remote/work-from-home jobs on AgCareers.com

AgCareers.com added a new work environment option for employers to specify in 2020-Remote/Work-from-Home. This work-from-home option was added because of employers’ increased offerings of remote opportunities during Covid, and increased demand by job seekers.

The number of positions posted on AgCareers.com in the remote/work-from-home category nearly tripled from 2020 to 2021.

Remote positions were most frequently posted in the Chemical, Pesticide, and Fertilizer industries, followed by Equipment, Manufacturing, and Technical.

Looking at career types, remote positions were most frequently posted in Sales/Retail and Business Development.

Overall, sales/retail careers remain the most common career type posted on AgCareers.com.

Trending career types with the highest percentage increase included risk management/security positions, customer support, skilled and technical trades, communications & public relations, and custom applicator. Engineering and processing career types also experienced strong growth.

AgCareers.com regularly conducts market research and analyzes statistics from job postings. These reviews help identify career trends and move forward in building the talent pipeline to the industry.

Examine the full US and Canadian versions of the HR Reviews and Agribusiness Job Reports referenced in this report here: https://www.agcareers.com/reports.cfm

Bonnie Johnson
Bonnie has over 20 years of professional marketing experience, including more than 10 years with AgCareers.com.

As the Marketing & Communications Manager, she leads the AgCareers.com team and brand through marketing and communications efforts. This includes internal and external communications, digital marketing, events, company branding, market research, and data analysis.

Raised on a farm in northeast Iowa, Bonnie has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, and a Master’s degree from Iowa State University.