Each year, from 2015 to 2020, it is estimated 60,000 jobs will be open in agriculture for graduates with a bachelor’s degree, but only 61 percent of those jobs will be filled. There is a shortage of graduates to fill jobs in the agricultural industry, according to a recent report by Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
At Colorado State University, there are 1,646 students enrolled in the College of Agricultural Sciences. CSU is the only university in Colorado that offers an agricultural degree, despite Colorado’s strong agricultural industry.
The shortage in graduates to fill jobs may contribute to the college’s 91 percent job placement rate in 2013-2014.
Jason Kosovski, director of communications for the College of Agricultural Sciences, believes that this shortage is partially a result of the diversity of jobs available in the industry that students may not be aware of when choosing a major.
“Agriculture, in general, touches all the other colleges at CSU in one form or another,” Kosovski said. “There are jobs related to business, health and human sciences, sustainability, ethics and engineering (in the agriculture industry).”
Graduates from 2013 to 2014 in the College of Agricultural Sciences had an average starting salary of $39,284, according to the CSU First Destination Report.
Increasing global population and the rapid development of technology affected the agricultural industry, opening up more jobs in areas beyond traditional production agriculture.
“An overarching theme of our college is keeping people fed, by asking, ‘how do we feed a growing population and make sure that they have safe and healthy food to eat?'” Kosovski said. “Another theme is making sure those people have spaces in which to live that are both healthy and beautiful. Our college looks as ways to produce smarter while using less resources.”
While traditional production agriculture still plays a large role in the industry, new jobs as a result of a growing industry have contributed to students’ perceptions of the college.
“People don’t know the depth of the agricultural industry,” said Beka Crocket, director of student success in the college of agricultural sciences. “People tend to picture someone sitting in a tractor, but it’s a lot broader than that.”
Because of the shortage in graduates, the college recruits nationally and globally, Kosovski said.
The College of Agricultural Sciences has the highest percent of non-resident students, compared to any other college at the university. 41 percent of students in the college are non-residents, compared to the university average, 24 percent.
“Colorado is great for agriculture production, agritourism and agricultural innovation,” Kosovski said. “There are lots of agriculturally based innovative companies in Colorado. Virtually, anything you want to do in agriculture, you can do in Colorado.”
The college also has the second-highest female-to-male gender ratio at the University. According to fall 2015 enrollment, 65.7 percent of students in the college identified as female. This was the second highest female-to-male ratio at the University, runner up to the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
The high female-to-male ratio in the College of Agricultural Sciences may be partially due to the high percentage of women in the Animal Sciences Department. Of students majoring in animal sciences, 85.4 percent identified as women in fall 2015.
Within each department in the college, there are a wide variety of jobs available, said Alex Cook, a soil and crop sciences senior.
“In my major, we have people studying everything from wheat breeding to bio-engineering to management,” Cook said. “There’s also jobs relating to information technology for precision planting, pesticides, efficiency and the environment.”
Collegian Reporter Erin Douglas can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ErinmDouglas23.