Australia’s youth and women boosting ag workforce

Australia’s agricultural workforce is growing and getting younger, according to the latest Insights snapshot released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics Sciences (ABARES).

ABARES Executive Director Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds said that the proportion of under 35 year olds working in agriculture was on the rise.

“While those working in agriculture are older on average than the general workforce the proportion of under 35 year olds has risen over the past five years to 24 per cent in 2016,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

“Of those young people 30 per cent are women, up two per cent from 2011.” 

The paper aims at providing a snapshot of the characteristics and diversity of people that contribute to Australian agriculture.

According to the results, the number of people entering the agricultural industry has risen by four per cent between 2011 and 2016, with 82 per cent of them living outside of capital cities.

Women now count for 32 per cent of the workforce and are more likely to be managers than ever before.


Women made up 28 per cent of all managers in the agriculture industry in 2016, with about half the women in agriculture working as managers.

“The snapshot also identified an emerging trend of an increasing proportion of women and young people working in agriculture attaining non-school certificate level or higher qualifications, with the proportion rising by seven per cent for women and five per cent for young people between 2011 and 2016,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

The National Farmers’ Federation this year established a mentoring program to encourage more women into leadership positions within agriculture. 

President Fiona Simson, herself the first female President of the peak body, said it was crucially important to have women equally represented at all levels.

“Women have been the backbone of our farming enterprises since agriculture began in this country. However their presence around the board tables and in the senior executive ranks has been lacking.

Ms Simson said the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program was designed to even the gender balance at a management and leadership level.  

“Our first cohort of aspiring leaders graduated during October.

“It’s great to see that the ABARES statistics reveal a growing trend towards women in ag-related management roles.”

For the full snapshot of Australia’s Agricultural Workforce is available at: www.agriculture.gov.au/snapshot.



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