Crafting Careers in Agriculture Rob Kaan says it starts with engaging with young people and their parents (our consumers )

“We see the consumer being just as important as the farmer. Changing entrenched cultural values and beliefs held by parents is challenging so it’s really important to us to focus on students, which is why we target agriculture and STEM education in schools around the world. This helps the kids form their own educated and hopefully positive views on agriculture.” Rob Kaan MD Corteva Agriscience Australia/NZ/Japan/Korea

At Picture You in Agriculture (PYiA) we have four goals.

Achieving Goal 4 – attracting the best and brightest people to the agriculture sector which we do using our Young Farming Champions as role models in our in-school programs The Archibull Prize and Kreative Koalas also requires a whole of sector commitment to

  • expose young people as early as possible to jobs in agriculture whilst they are at school
  • ensure there are multiple touch points to agriculture along their school journey
  • equip students and job seekers with navigation resources into agricultural career pathways and jobs
  • ensure industry routinely assesses its skills and credential requirements
  • inspire the agriculture sector to take a whole of supply chain approach to being the image we want the world to see.

In this Crafting Careers in Agriculture* series we speak with leaders in the industry to understand their views on the future of the agricultural workplace.

Following the opinion piece from Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe our first Thought Leader is Rob Kaan

Rob is the managing director – Australia/NZ/Japan/Korea – at Corteva Agriscience, a company ahead of the curve when it comes to workforce forecasting to ensure they have the right team on the ground supporting farmers now and in the future.

Rob believes engaging with school and university students and, in turn, their parents (the consumers) is an important avenue for attracting people to agriculture.

“We see the consumer being just as important as the farmer. Changing entrenched cultural values and beliefs held by parents is challenging so it’s really important to us to focus on students, which is why we target agriculture and STEM education in schools around the world. This helps the kids form their own educated and hopefully positive views on agriculture.”

“It’s also why working with PYiA is important because it provides a pipeline from school to university, allowing us to identify and develop talent. A great example is Corteva’s Steph Tabone who has recently joined the Young Farming Champion program.”

Sparking an agricultural interest in students and the consumers is only one step to attracting the future agricultural workforce. Rob believes creating a workplace where people want to work is critical and Corteva is actively addressing this.

“Diversity in many forms is important but gender diversity is critical so we work to have positive policies in place such as maternity and paternity leave and strive to have gender balance within our teams and leadership. Employee flexibility is another important factor and this has been highlighted with COVID. We still need good guidelines and rules in place to support collaboration, but I think young people want a flexible work environment. Another factor is technology. School kids don’t always make the connection between cool technology and agriculture. That is a big gap and one we want to change.”

Finally, Rob talks about what he calls the purpose of agriculture; a notion that the sector not only provides food and fibre, but is influenced by holistic real-word interests.

“Relationships with food companies and the active promotion of integrated pest management (IPM) are important activities that support our corporate values. Young people are also interested in these issues and issues such as sustainability and climate change.”

Corteva’s identification of the needs of the future workplace puts them in an optimum position to be an employer of choice for the students they are currently reaching in schools. And what example would Rob give them of a cool career?

“The future challenges for agriculture are both daunting and exciting at the same time, with a singular focus on the global need to grow more food with less; less labour, less water, less land and less impact. Developing and utilising automated technology is a great example of this– anything from driverless vehicles, sprayers and harvesters to specialised drones and satellites. Automation using cutting edge technology is going to be a huge global market that will help solve significant labour shortage issues in all countries.”

And how did Rob find his way into a career in agriculture?

Rob readily admits to having no affiliation or connection with agriculture during his childhood years. In fact, he wanted to be a veterinarian.

“I didn’t get the HSC marks to directly enter vet science, so the only other pathway was through agricultural science at Sydney University. Once I entered this stream, I found I really enjoyed it and stayed with a focus on agronomy.”

Connect with Rob on LinkedIn

* The Crafting Careers series is an initiative of the Youth Voices Leadership Team (YVLT) and their commitment to

  • expose young people as early as possible to jobs in agriculture whilst they are at school
  • ensure there are multiple touch points to agriculture along their school journey
  • equip students and job seekers with navigation resources into agricultural career pathways and jobs
  • ensure industry routinely assesses its skills and credential requirements
  • inspire the agriculture sector to take a whole of supply chain approach to being the image we want the world to see

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