Skills & Labour

While new technologies, systems, processes and business models are important, people are the critical element in ensuring the growth of Australian rural industries.

AgriFutures Australia collaborates with the other research and development corporations, government departments, the private sector and not-for-profit organisations to highlight the opportunities a career in agriculture has to offer.


AgriFutures Australia is working across the agricultural research and development system to address ‘people’ issues. Specifically, the National Rural Issues Program develops research that explores:

  • The skill sets required to service an increasingly technologically savvy sector
  • Where the workforce will from
  • How to attract and retain skilled workers, including young people
  • The image of agriculture as a possible inhibitor to attracting and retaining a quality workforce.



To build prosperous and sustainable rural industries, we need producers with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions about the future of their enterprises and industries.

Currently the supply of people into agricultural careers is not keeping up with the demands of an ageing workforce. We must take action now to ensure the future of the sector.

Additionally, with the explosion of new technologies emerging from digital disruption, agriculture also needs more highly skilled people with a diverse range of academic, technical and practical backgrounds.

Introducing agricultural career pathways in schools is critical. Agriculture needs to be promoted as a viable and attractive career path, not just for students from a family farming background.

In short, agriculture needs an image makeover. It is time for the branding of the industry to reflect and promote the innovative, diverse, forward-thinking and positive lifestyle farming offers.


Michael Beer
General Manager, Business Development

Related resources

Diversity in decision-making in rural industries

This research aims to better understand how diverse groups in the Australian economy can be optimally harnessed at farm and industry levels to innovative leadership roles in the rural sector's decision-making and operational activities.

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Fact Sheet: Diversity in decision-making in rural industries

There are many studies devoted to understanding the benefits to businesses who embrace diversity in the workplace. We know a little bit about the breakdown of diversity within agriculture but most studies focus on their contribution.

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Diversity report: research overview

Compared with other sectors of the Australian economy, primary industries have low levels of diversity within their decision-making ranks. It’s no wonder that the traditional image of a farmer entrenched in the Australian psyche is that of an older, white male, when the statistics show that 72% of Australian farmers are in fact men.


Diversity case study: Josh Murray

At first glance, it may not be immediately obvious that 16-year-old Josh Murray is an agricultural entrepreneur, and according to the Diversity in decision-making in rural industries report, his is one of the six per cent of small businesses where the decision maker is aged under 30.


Diversity case study: Robert Riley

Now the co-owner of a nursery, Robert Riley left school after Year 10 to be an apprentice motorcycle mechanic — but he only secured the job because a friend vouched for him, something that’s always in the back of his mind.


Diversity case study: Kalyn Fletcher

Growing up as youngest of four children at Kununurra in the Ord Scheme, Kalyn Fletcher can trace her interest in agribusiness back to her earliest memories. Today, the 2016 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award for Western Australia and the 2016 Business Women’s Australia’s Women on the Rise award manages her family’s two businesses.


Diversity case study: Ade Ariantika

Jakarta-raised mechanical engineer Ade Ariantika is known for being an enthusiastic go-getter who loves a challenge, but it was still a surprise to her family in Indonesia, and to her friends at her Brisbane-based university, when she accepted a job working at a meat processing plant in the rural Darling Downs of Queensland.


Diversity case study: Sue McGregor

Sue McGregor says there’s more to agribusiness than meets the eye, and she can imagine no other life. “I love agriculture and all it represents: the people, the culture, the work ethic and the fact that it produces something tangible. I love that it has purpose: you can see it, grow it, eat it and sell it. I also love that it’s constantly evolving.”


Infographic: diversity benefits

The Diversity in decision-making in rural industries research found businesses that proactively foster gender, racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to outperform their national industry competitors.


Infographic: diversity solutions

The Diversity in decision-making in rural industries research found businesses that proactively foster gender, racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to outperform their national industry competitors.