Addressing the current and Future skIll needs for sustainability, digitalization, and the bio-Economy in AgricuLture: European skills agenDa and Strategy
Sector Skills Alliance
European agriculture is facing many challenges, the Food 2030 policy highlights the vulnerability of agri-production due to the globalisation of the markets, increasing competition, the prices volatility and the economic uncertainty along with the low incremental crop productivity. Those vulnerabilities are stressed by increasing demand for food and feed while environmental concerns increase and climatic changes generate more uncertainties. Moving from business-as-usual agriculture to Sustainable farming is a complex process which requires a system approach, including reshaping the role of the farmer: from a mere producer of food and commodities, into “wise manager of the natural capital”.
The purpose of the project is to answer those challenges through the skills prism. Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD) analysis of the factors which affect productivity identifies ‘People’ as one of the six factors. It states that: ‘Improving the skills of the workforce and the ability to harness them via effective leadership is critical to productivity growth. A correlation exists between business performance and levels of skills and education.’
However, the fact that 94% of businesses employ fewer than 10 people or are family holdings and therefore lack professional human resources support, shows that unlike other sectors, the agriculture needs a dedicated skills strategy backed with specific curricula and training.
Today’s farmers undoubtedly have the expertise yet they need help to gain additional skills to deal with new technologies and to meet the challenges of climate change and land management in the 21st century. In addition, the level of qualifications is low by comparison with other sectors, there is poor uptake of lifelong learning. This is largely due to a lack of awareness of options and benefits, a mismatch in available training and industry needs and general inertia to develop people.
A clear an EU sectoral skills strategy is needed to improve risk management, stem the loss of practical skills, improve understanding of new technologies, develop business and leadership skills and bring about a more coordinated approach to skills development. Bio-economy by linking the various actors of the value chain, by making use of new circular economy model allows to tackle many of the challenges agriculture is facing, but proper skills strategy is missing to allow farmers to address it successfully.
FIELDS will rely on previous activities and competences represented in the large consortium to define a sectoral skills strategy. The previous project is listed in Part 0 of this proposal. But FIELDS project will also rely on two on-going activities led by BIC and CEPI, which aim at identifying skills needs and skill gaps in the bio-economy sector and the forestry sector.
Coordinator: University of Turin (UNITO)