The agriculture club at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) continued their guest speaker series with the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) on Nov. 16.
Barbara Hochman, who works for the Center of Growing Talent at PMA, spoke to students about why they created the center and how it can help those seeking a career in agriculture.
The foundation was founded back in 2005, when industry and employment trends were showing that by 2010 baby boomers were going to retire, and if industries did not start creating and seeking new talent, they would be in trouble. PSA took that to heart, and they started the Center for Growing Talent as a pipeline to usher a new generation into the industry.
While baby boomers did not retire as expected based on predictions back in 2008, the industry is now seeing them retire in waves, growing the demand for new positions.
In the U.S, produce is a $554 billion industry and is still growing.
In her presentation, Hochman put up a list of over 50 produce and floral companies and asked participants to recognize as many as they could. A majority of students could only recognize five.
The reason Hochman did this was to show that while agriculture may be an industry of interest to some, with wide potential for career opportunities, many don’t even know the companies they can apply to. This makes recognizing these opportunities much more difficult.
Part of Hochman’s goals for 2022 is to create a page for a job board from their sponsors for new talent looking for a career in agriculture. New career opportunities include jobs in sustainability/climate change, plant-forward diets, consumer shopping trends, food safety challenges, research and development and supply chain advancements.
PSA utilizes a free online certificate program created by industry members. Not only are students hearing about a specific segment on the supply chain, but they get to learn about a specific company and hear from people who created the module. Students can register for the module by going to centerforgrowingtalent.org.
“We’ve had hundreds of students complete it and it takes so fast,” Hochman said. “Students have said it made them want to do more research in the careers they learn about. Overall, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Each module roughly takes 15 minutes to complete, being a fast-paced course that features interactive Q&A.