WHEN most people think of agricultural careers, they tend to think of rustic farmers struggling to make ends meet through drought, flood and fire.
They couldn't be more wrong according to Mick Hay of Rimfire Resources.
Mr Hay started his own agricultural career in crop protection after studying at University of Queensland's Gatton campus, but eventually felt like making a change.
He knew he wanted to stay within the agricultural or agribusiness sector and was intrigued by the idea of career recruitment.
In the end he achieved his goal of helping people find the right agricultural career and said there was never a more exciting time to look into it, whether you were raised in the middle of Sydney or out the back of Roma.
"For me, agriculture and agribusiness is my passion and I just wanted to work in the recruitment space,” he said.
"I suppose through that time I've really seen the industry evolve.
"In the late 1990s we went through that horrendous drought and nationally agriculture was a bit on the nose and commodities were down.
"Agriculture numbers at university dropped off and a lot of the market is still feeling that now.
"A lot of people would have graduated through 2005-2008 and a lot of those people would be really hitting their straps right now.”
He said the doom and gloom of the '90s made a fairly quick turnaround in 2009-2010 with global food shortages and countries closing their borders around export commodities like rice.
Add to that the food and dining boom in recent years, as well as a good deal more awareness in both the media and the general public about the agriculture sector, and Mr Hay said he could see things changing fast.
"Overlying that is the challenge of feeding the global population and the technology boom and that means career paths are changing,” he said.
"I talk to schoolkids and tell them we've got graduates in this sector graduating with multiple job offers, and that's quite unlike nearly any other sector out there.
"Our biggest issue as an industry is a lot of people don't actually know that.
"It's up to the industry as a whole to talk about and showcase these success stories.”
He pointed to the rise of drone usage, driverless tractors and other recent technological advances as the beginnings of new careers that had yet to become fully fledged, as well as pointing out the effect corporations buying into the agricultural industry had on job opportunities.
He said it no longer mattered what your interests were, because there was a good chance there would be an agricultural job to suit.
"It has all changed dramatically and we need, as an industry, a skill base that is going to support that and one of the skills that is looming is in the whole technology space,” Mr Hay said.
"Even traditional careers like agronomy have changed and they have a whole different set of skills around the use of technology. They're using their iPhones and apps to download and upload data, so with that whole interface of traditional ag meeting the really high-technology space, that's where our knowledge goals are.”
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