Easterly, III, R. G., Warner, A. J., Myers, B. E., Lamm, A. J. & Telg, R. W. (2017). Skills students need in the real world: competencies desired by agricultural and natural resources industry leaders. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(4) 225-239. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2017.04225


The competencies addressed by undergraduate agricultural education programs should be assessed so programs are effective in supplying a well-prepared agricultural- and natural resources-oriented workforce, and so human capital is optimized. In this study, agricultural and natural resources leaders were surveyed to determine the workforce competencies they believed graduates of post-secondary agricultural education programs should have obtained. An Internet-based survey was distributed to graduates of an agricultural leadership development (ALT) group and a natural resources leadership development (NRLT) Group. The highest-rated workforce competency categories for the ALT group were being dependable (n = 103), critical thinking (n = 101), strategic planning (n = 98), and clear communication (n = 98); the highest-rated categories for the NRLT group were active listening (n = 73), clear communication (n = 72), and problem solving skills (n = 72). The personal and leadership skills subscales were not significantly different, but natural resources leaders ranked communication competencies as more important than agricultural leaders. Agricultural educators should evaluate the workforce competencies offered in their undergraduate programs and have deliberate conversations about meeting industry needs to better prepare a future workforce.

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