Four weeks. Four provinces. Ten thousand learners. The VKB Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow kicks off on Monday in Phuthaditjhaba in the Eastern Free State, with many leading agricultural enterprises participating.
At the 12 different career days hosted by 12 different high schools, learners will discover an A to Z of agricultural career and study opportunities – well beyond farming and ranching. Truly, a career in agriculture could provide learners with a rewarding and fulfilling future.
“There are literally thousands of career possibilities in Mzansi’s vibrant agri-sector, with opportunities for bright kids with just about any field of interest,” says Kobus Louwrens, co-founder of Food For Mzansi. “We hope to get them excited and show them some possible new paths towards pursuing their dream careers.”
Several leading role-players in agriculture are involved in the roadshow, including VKB, NuPro, QPRO, Bayer, the University of the Free State, MSD Animal Health, The Answer Educational Publishers, Stellenbosch University and the Sernick Group. Participating learners can brace themselves for 12 fun-filled days, including competitions and the chance to meet a diverse group of professionals working in agriculture. From journalists to veterinarians, they will all be on-site to interact with learners and to introduce their respective careers.
The VKB Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow follows after Marianne van der Laarse’s warning that the absence of young, skilled and experienced agriculturalists is posing a serious threat to Mzansi’s agricultural industry.
Van der Laarse, a specialist recruiter for the agri sector, is the Managing Director of the agri-recruitment company Agrijob. She says, “The shortage of horticulturalists, agronomists and soil scientists are among the many posts waiting to be filled to prevent a bigger gap in the sector.”
Along with a shortfall of animal feed scientists specialising in dairy, the lack of people between 30 and 40 years of age is also notably on the rise in the fruit, vegetable and grain industry. The deficiency of skills such as practical knowledge on plant nutrition and post-harvest handling of vegetables and fruit is part of the problem adding to the existing gap.
Van Der Laarse explains, “There is still a large number of graduates with qualifications in the above mentioned fields of specialisation, who are struggling to find their first jobs. The lack of skills as mentioned is the main reason for graduates not finding work.”
For more than 20 years, Agrijob has been specialising in recruitment in agriculture and agri-food, focusing on bursaries and internships. Through their career portal they aim to make it easier for companies to recruit students. Van Der Laarse suggests that the only solution to breach the problem is the availability of more holiday work and short-term internships for agricultural students.
“Too many students do not get the opportunity to do practical or holiday work during their studies. Holiday work plays a very important role in the employability of graduates. There should also be more private sector fixed-term internships available for graduates ranging from six months to one year.”
According to Food For Mzansi co-founder Ivor Price many learners do not know that agriculture – as the hub of our economy – offers so many interesting possibilities. Our agricultural sector offers great jobs. In fact, agriculture is now a core focus of the National Development Plan.
The government identified agriculture as an important tool with the potential to create a million jobs by 2030 – an ambitious target and a clear indication of the massive scale of opportunities waiting for those brave enough to choose agriculture.
Late Registrations Accepted For Career Days
Entry to the career days are free charge, and it’s not too late to register. If your school has still not yet registered to attend, urgently send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here follows the complete schedule:
- Monday. 15 July – Seotlong Agricultural and Hotel School, Phuthaditjhaba
- Tuesday, 16 July – Reitz High School, Reitz
- Wednesday, 17 July – Wilgerivier High School, Frankfort
- Thursday, 18 Jy –Kroonstad High School, Kroonstad
- Monday, 22 July – Hangklip High School, Queenstown
- Tuesday, 23 July – Marlow Agricultural School, Cradock
- Wednesday, 24 July – On the farm of Jac Jordaan Boerdery, Somerset East
- Monday, 29 July – Bernadino Heights High School, Kraaifontein
- Tuesday, 30 July – Hoër Landbouskool Paarl, Paarl
- Wednesday, 31 July – Bastiaanse Secondary School, Beaufort West
- Tuesday, 6 Augustus – Merensky High School, Tzaneen
- Wednesday, 7 August – Settlers High School, Settlers