Recently I was asked for advice by a discouraged job-seeker as she continued hitting dead ends. In talking with this talented young woman and learning more about her background, I encouraged her to highlight that she had lived outside the United States for several years.  Emphasizing her global perspective helped her get an interview, and ultimately be off and running in a career.

As one of Indiana’s largest bioscience employers, Dow AgroSciences is always looking for top talent to join us as we innovate here and around the world.  Indeed, the challenge of food and feed production is both local and global. Indiana’s workforce in the ag sector must seek, understand and appreciate international perspectives and embrace diverse ideas to solve challenges and expand modern agriculture.

The Indiana Agbioscience Workforce study commissioned by AgriNovus Indiana reinforces imperatives that will take us to the future. We agree that for Indiana to be a leader in generating and sustaining a highly skilled agbioscience workforce, we must all work concurrently on implementing four critical strategies, and do so with a global mindset. Let’s take a quick look at those strategies and examples of what can be done:

Create a greater pipeline of students interested in agbiosciences careers.

Encouraging students to explore careers in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) is something we take seriously at Dow AgroSciences.  In fact, we have hundreds of employees who volunteer as Science Ambassadors who have reached more than half a million people, encouraging scientific literacy and engagement with global ag careers. We encourage college students to take advantage of study abroad and other international opportunities which provide insight into the global stage upon which agriculture plays. Diversity is important, as we seek to help women and minorities see the great career potential ag offers. Right now at our site in Indianapolis, we have employees who come from more than 40 countries, and you can hear 20 different languages being spoken in our hallways. Diverse perspectives are important to our business success, and reaching students today builds our future people pipeline.

Develop industry-relevant skill sets for core occupation talent.

It is essential for our colleges and universities to help students obtain agricultural technical skills and knowledge. Our customers tell us they want sales people who understand their operations and can provide insight/ideas. We need a workforce with the ability to develop solutions for farmers’ challenges. We are working with learning institutions to adjust curriculums to include skills that are needed for our global enterprise. Of course, the “softer” skills are also very important for industry-related and allied occupations; people must be able to work on teams, collaborate and problem-solve.

Increase agbioscience career engagement for allied occupation fields.

Running a global ag company takes many areas of expertise, and we recruit talent in areas like finance, public affairs and manufacturing. It is important to help people in these allied occupations learn more about agriculture and realize the great opportunities for a career in this most essential industry. Simply put, we need to make it “cool” to be in agriculture regardless of your specific skill set.

Catalyze continued career advancement for rising professionals and foster linkages between post-retirement professionals and start-up opportunities.

We fully agree that every career stage can be enhanced with focused development and new opportunities. From initial role coaching to helping more mature workers find a new challenge, it is essential to encourage fresh ideas and knowledge transfer. Technology is advancing agriculture at a rapid pace, and each generation brings special talents that can help grow our industry through innovation.

There’s never been a more exciting time to be in agriculture, and we’re embracing the opportunities to build a diverse workforce here in Indiana to advance the agbiosciences industry here and around the world.

Audrey Grimm is vice president of human resources at Dow AgroSciences.

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