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Agriculture Secretary Promotes Ag, Career and Tech Ed Pathways to Employment Opportunities at Central Columbia High School

02/19/2016

Agriculture Department Unveils Agriculture and Food Career Desk Guide


Bloomsburg, PA
- With more than 75,000 job vacancies anticipated over the next decade in Pennsylvania’s food and agriculture industries, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today highlighted the opportunities schools across the commonwealth offer to prepare students for these anticipated workforce needs.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, during a visit to Columbia County’s Central Columbia High School, said agriculture education programs, as well as career and technical education programs, offer students the necessary training to fill vacancies in these industries, as well as in many others that are rooted in so-called STEM fields, or those that emphasize science, technology, engineering and mathematical skills.

“Ag education and career and tech ed programs offer the training students need for lifelong careers in not only enduring industries like agriculture and food processing and manufacturing, but in a host of other industries, as well,” said Redding. “There is a growing need for workers with training in the STEM fields. That need is not going to go away, and these types of education programs offer the foundation students need to compete for those jobs.

“Our objective, today, is to tout and promote the programs that already exist and to expand these types of opportunities to students in other schools across the state. More importantly, though, our long-term goal is to foster viable pathways for students to find sustainable, long-term employment in a strategically important industry for Pennsylvania.”

The secretary’s visit to Central Columbia is part of a series of stops at schools across the state in February to highlight agriculture and career and technical education programs. The stops are being billed as a series of “Beyond the Blue Jacket Showcase” events, a nod to the blue jackets that are the official dress uniform of FFA members. Joining the department at these events are representatives of the state departments of Community and Economic Development and Education, as well as the Pennsylvania Association of Agriculture Educators.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, under Governor Tom Wolf, has launched a workforce development initiative, part of which is to promote and expand the state’s agriculture education opportunities, as well as career and technical education (CTE) programs. Aside from a $200 million increase in basic education funding, the budget Governor Wolf unveiled earlier this month proposes $15 million more for CTE programs, along with $5 million for these programs to upgrade the equipment and technology they use for student instruction.

Through workforce development initiative, the department has assessed the present employment picture in agriculture and food industries, and it has developed a forecast for the next 10 years. Today, there are almost half a million Pennsylvania jobs tied to these industries. By 2025, almost 75,000 of these positions will have job openings. Of those anticipated vacancies, the department has identified the 25 most in-demand occupations, which span sectors like production agriculture; animal health and veterinary services; landscaping; food manufacturing, forestry, lumber and wood products; and conservation and natural resources.

To help make more students and school guidance counselors aware of these opportunities, the department today release “Agriculture and Food Careers in Pennsylvania: A Desk Guide for Educators and Counselors.” This guide provides detailed information on the knowledge, skills, and abilities related to these 25 in-demand jobs.

The guide provides information for educators, veterans counselors and workforce advisors to determine how the curriculum being utilized in their own classrooms are preparing students with the needed skills for each occupation featured in the guide. There is also information on Military Occupation Specialties (MOS), National Council on Agriculture Education standards, and Keystone education standards as well as general information on average wage, occupational outlook and compatible occupations.

Pennsylvania schools offer more than 150 agricultural education programs. Members of these programs are also members of the Pennsylvania FFA Association, and participate in career and leadership development events, where they compete at chapter, region, state and national events.

The first Beyond the Blue Jacket Showcase event took place at Penn Manor High School in Lancaster County, and a final event will take place on February 23 at McGuffey High School in Washington County.

For more information about the Beyond the Blue Jacket Showcase events, visit www.paffa.org/paae.


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