MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM — Canadians living in the prairies know the significance of a strong and healthy agriculture industry, and the sector is currently projecting a labour shortage at a time when the world’s population continues to grow to record numbers.
To help attract more young students toward a career in agriculture, Agriculture in the Classroom Sask. has launched the Kareero app, which provides a fun, free, and interactive way for students in Grades 7 to 12 to explore their career options.
“The app is a very fun, interactive way for students to navigate through the task of building a school garden,” explained Sara Shymko, the executive director of Agriculture in the Classroom Sask.
“Along the way, as they make different decisions, the app tracks these decisions in the background and then it will reveal to them which of the six… interest areas they’re most likely to fall into.”
“Those interest areas are really important because they kind of guide further exploration into careers in agriculture, whether someone is creative, more organized, analytical, or persuasive,” she said.
Since many career opportunities in agriculture aren’t common knowledge, and people’s assumptions tend to revolve around a few signature roles in the industry, the app looks into personality traits and role-based strengths to dig a bit deeper.
“We’ve kind of broken out the careers you would typically find in agriculture into these different career areas, because we know that there’s a lot of diversity of careers in agriculture,” said Shymko. A student who is strongly persuasive might be interested in a career as a CEO, sales representative, or customer service representative, for instance.
“Often students who maybe aren’t involved in science, and don’t really like working outdoors are like, ‘oh, I don’t have a fit in agriculture,’ when that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Shymko noted.
“They might be an executive director of a not-for-profit organization dealing with agriculture, or they might be community investment specialists… they might be a sales rep, an accountant, (or) a lawyer. There’s so many careers working within agriculture that many students will not even consider.”
Once the school garden is completed on the app, an algorithm helps identify the student’s areas of interest and then directs them to the Think Ag website containing around 50 career paths in the agriculture industry.
“There is a labour shortage currently, and a pretty significant projected labour shortage in all areas, both skilled and unskilled labour for agriculture. There’s also going to be a lot of competition for the young people for these careers,” explained Shymko.
“I think it’s incredibly important that students realize that there’s a ton of opportunities in agriculture where you can make some pretty good money. They have opportunities to travel and to explore different areas,” she said.
A career in agriculture is purposeful and important because, ultimately, agriculture feeds the world.
“Often, we’re finding in some of our research today that young people want a job that they can feel good about. They want a career that makes a difference. Agriculture provides those opportunities for students,” Shymko said.
“Collectively, across Canada, we all know that jobs need to be filled in the agriculture industry, and it’s the young people sitting in the classroom today who are going to be filling those jobs.”
Another aim of the Kareero app is to show young students that modern agriculture is innovative and is a different environment from how it once was. “If their view of agriculture is the view of 100 years ago, no student is going to consider working in it,” said Shymko.
“We’ve had some pretty good feedback from students on (Kareero). Anytime they get to do something a little bit different in the classroom they’re pretty excited about it, and it’s been a good catalyst for further exploration into careers,” Shymko said.
The Kareero app, along with Agriculture in the Classroom Sask.’s other educational resources and programs, is available free of charge thanks to generous support from the organization’s funders and individual donors.
For more information about careers in agriculture, visit ThinkAg.ca.
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