Agribusiness

Overview

Competitiveness and innovation in agribusiness requires continuous improvement in firms’ skills and capacities in both Argentina and Australia. University training at undergraduate and post-graduate levels in both countries have an essential role to play in achieving this, and industry organisations have recognised this. Also in both countries, universities’degree programs, and industries’assistance initiatives have addressed the challenge but have encountered problems such as low rates of completion, non-return of graduates, low uptake by existing staff, and difficulties in attracting good candidates to agribusiness degree programs and careers.

This project will canvass and validate the aspirations of firms, industries, students and universities. Researchers will review past initiatives in delivery to, and uptake of university degrees by agribusiness firms. Using industry networks in Australia and Argentina, and the exchange of national and international experience, the partnership between universities and industries will be established to re-design of university training for agroindustry. Pilot programs will then be designed.

In Australia and Argentina, advanced education of employees is vital to establishing and maintaining competitiveness and engendering innovation in agribusiness.

In both countries, a number of initiatives and programs have been undertaken to facilitate tertiary education for prospective and current employees.

Issues include: 

  • student recruitment and completion rates
  • graduates exiting the industry upon completion
  • time scheduling and prioritisation for mid-career professionals in university education.

Objectives

We aim to improve agribusiness performance and competitiveness through better employee skills.

This project focuses on the tertiary education needs of the agribusiness sector and the student base associated with that industry. We aim to:

  • identify best practice for firms and universities in providing university training of agribusiness employees
  • re-design elements of the university curriculum for the needs of agribusiness 
  • identify the best process of change for degrees and courses (units) at universities
  • identify leadership, implementation and funding roles for students, firms, industry associations, local and national governments and universities.

Activities

To achieve these objectives, the project analyses programs or degree offerings, and the experience of firms and students, as well as of the industry organisations.

The activities are mirrored in Australia and Argentina, and include:

  • consultation with universities and agribusiness-related industry organisations of experiences and aspirations
  • formulation and implementation of an online questionnaire for firms and students, covering past, current and planned future activities and evaluation of performance
  • examination of university offerings in Australia and Argentina and the identification of positive and negative experiences and factors contributing to these
  • delivery of the analysis of the data to firms, industry and universities, in a structured validation exercise, along with call for ideas for change
  • formulation and dissemination of ideas for change
  • the design of a pilot program at University of New England and National University of the South, with shared effort and learning from both countries.

The communication and the data collection activities develop networks within and between the university and agribusiness sectors.

Agribusiness partners are employed as hubs through which large numbers of interested stakeholders can be engaged. Current and former students are located through these networks and contacted for commentary and identification of lessons learned.

Stakeholder survey

Our on-line questionnaire targeting four stakeholder groups (students, industry groups, firms, and tertiary education providers) was released in Argentina in October 2017 and in Australia in November 2017.  Analysis of national databases regarding student numbers and progressions in the agricultural field is also underway.

The results of this study will be released at the Annual Conference of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association in Buenos Aries in June 2018.

Study tour

In June 2018, the University of New England will implement a study tour of Argentina for 32 agribusiness students, and this will involve significant interaction with colleagues and students at National University of the South in Argentina.

Memorandum of understanding

A memorandum of understanding was signed between University of New England and the National University of the Littoral in February 2018 to further strengthen and extend their collaboration into the future.

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