An issue of agriculture over the past two years in Ukraine is being discussed at various levels staring from the all-knowing ‘experts’ in social networks and ending with the highest state officials. Agribusiness is the most dynamic sector in the national economy, increasing the share both in GDP and the trade balance of Ukraine, and still remains to be profitable activity, if you deal with it effectively.
It can be argued at length how to develop our agriculture: in favor of large agricultural holdings or small farmers, it will be organic or traditional, with a free market of agricultural intended lands or without it, but regardless of all this, the agricultural sector will be increasingly innovative and technological progress will not pass even the most remote villages of Chernihiv and Zhytomyr regions. Today, no one can be surprised by the use of drones, strain gauges, track control, autopilots and milking robots in agribusiness.
In five years the agricultural sector will be changed beyond recognition and tractors without drivers or unmanned drones spraying corn will be an integral part of the Ukrainian landscapes. Are our educational institutions ready for this? What specialties will be the most demanded in the Ukrainian agricultural sector in future?
After numerous discussions with my colleagues, I’ll call five major specialties:
1. Computer science
In the nearest future most business processes in the agricultural sector will be fully or highly automated. IT specialists with agricultural knowledge will be the most demanded on the market.
Machines will replace humans in performance of almost all complicated or heavy physical works. But people will have to repair equipment and machinery (which still will be broken down). Therefore, well-trained engineer will be extremely valuable.
3. Agronomist-agricultural manager (in the broad sense of the word)
Agronomist with broad managerial responsibilities who will be able to make timely decisions concerning agriculture matters has been, is and will be a key figure in agribusiness.
Taking into consideration the frequent problems with various types of viral animal diseases that cause billions of losses for the companies, a qualified veterinarian in livestock industry will play a crucial role in the success of all business.
Not only the climate changes becoming a cause of the global natural disasters, such as drought and general lack of fresh water, but also the transition to precision farming with processing and analysis of the huge amounts of data, do not allow us anymore to rely on the experience of previous generations. Prompt decisions that can improve productivity by means of mathematical models will be required. Mathematician soon will become one of the most important people at the Ukrainian fields.
With regard to the other specialties, such as managers, marketing specialists, economists attracting students in our agricultural universities, they are currently not highly-sought in the agricultural sector. In future the agricultural university graduate with a diploma ‘Manager of International Economic Activity’ will give an employer only a faint smile.
According to surveys of the Science and Methodology Center ‘Agroosvita’ and the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club, most students choose profession on the advice of their parents disregarding the fact that agricultural companies do not need so many accountants, economists, lawyers, managers and marketing specialists.
For example, so many accountants are working in the Ukrainian agricultural sector only due to the tax system developed on the corruption. As soon as the government implements accounting and taxation system reforms, most farmers will transfer to outsourcing and will use services of the specialized accounting service centers.
Agrarian universities should take into account the needs of agricultural companies and review their approaches to training of young specialists. Agricultural educational institutions, with a few exceptions, constantly engaged in wheedling funds of the budget and attracting new students every year, fighting for survival, have almost fallen out of touch with the real sector. It is necessary to sit down to talk with agribusiness representatives and find out which specialists are really demanded on the agricultural market. Not all agricultural institutes will survive the next five - seven years. At best, 4 universities, 25 technical colleges and upgraded vocational schools will remain to exist. All those who fail should blame only themselves.