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Preparing Pennsylvania’s Students for Success through Agricultural Education

Preparing Pennsylvania’s Students for Success through Agricultural Education

HARRISBURG, PA — In recognition of the growing need for a workforce prepared to fill nearly 75,000 job vacancies in the agriculture and food industries over the next decade, the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture (PDA) and Education (PDE) recently unveiled their comprehensive agricultural education report for schools across the Commonwealth.

“The Wolf Administration believes in prioritizing jobs that pay and schools that teach, and this report represents the intersection of those two priorities,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Ensuring that Pennsylvania’s students have access to high-quality agricultural education programs that foster the skills necessary for success will lay the groundwork for a talented, well-prepared workforce in the years to come.”

The report announcement was accompanied by the creation of a 15-member Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence. The commission will operate under the concurrent authority of PDA and PDE, and is charged with assisting in the development of a statewide plan for agricultural education and coordinating the implementation of related programming with both departments.

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“Farming isn’t the only agriculture-related career pathway,” Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera said. “Other careers include engineering and design, law, finance, environmental planning, and sales – at its heart, agriculture education is STEM education. Promoting agriculture education is an investment in the next generation of leaders of Pennsylvania’s top industry.”

In his 2018-19 budget, Governor Wolf proposed PAsmart – a first-of-its-kind workforce development proposal to invest $50 million for STEM and computer science education, support hands-on technical education programs, and encourage employers and schools to work together to help students get the skills employers need. The proposal provides for an additional $10 million investment in career readiness programs, allowing high school students to earn both a diploma and post-secondary credentials and helping non-traditional students and workers earn post-secondary credits and credentials aligned to in-demand careers.

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Agriculture is a $135 billion industry facing an aging workforce. Attrition, growing demand for certain products, and advancing technologies will result in a workforce deficit in a number of career paths over the next decade. Of those anticipated vacancies, the department has identified the 25 most in-demand occupations, which span sectors like production agriculture; animal health and veterinary services; landscaping; food manufacturing, forestry, lumber and wood products; and conservation and natural resources.

As part of PDA’s workforce development plan, the Department is working to identify gaps in education and training for those in-demand career paths; focus on work-based learning, including micro-credentials and apprenticeships; and help Pennsylvanians obtain meaningful careers on the way to finding solutions to the shortage of talent in the near and long-term.

For more information, or to read the report, visit agriculture.pa.gov or education.pa.gov.

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Source: Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture

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