Working in the South African agricultural industry was discussed in great detail and with enthusiasm at the AgriCAREERConnect Day at Stellenbosch University. Students were able to enquire about job opportunities, holiday work, bursaries and internships that are available within the fruit and vegetable industries, the wine and beverage sector and for those who have a background in animal sciences, business management, soil science, logistics, forestry, plant diseases, computer science, food science and engineering. Students could also find out more about the latest technologies driving these sectors, and the niche skills that employers are increasingly looking for.
The event was held on Thursday 2 October 2019 by the SU Faculty of AgriSciences, in association with AgriJob, a nationwide recruitment agency that focuses on the agricultural and food sectors. A similar event was also held at the University of Pretoria in September.
Eighteen exhibitors represented a range of agri-related sectors and businesses. Throughout the day, 21 talks by people working in the industry. They elaborated about what they studied, how they found their feet in their respective agricultural or foodrelated sectors, and what they do in a day. The speakers included a winemaker, a marketing consultant, foresters, an food sector auditor, a logistics coordinator, an animal nutritionist, a seed developer and the owner of a firm that uses drones to collect data about farmers' orchards or farmland.
"Ideally, we'd like to see young people connect with industry players while they are still studying. This could be through holiday work or by receiving a bursary. Such initiatives give the industry the chance to help develop fresh minds, and to scout for potential candidates that they'd like to employ upon graduation," explains Marianne van der Laarse of AgriJob.
The AgriCAREERConnect Day is part of the SU Faculty of AgriSciences's vision of ensuring a closer relationship between its students studying agricultural sciences, conservation ecology and food sciences and their related industries. Therefore, the Faculty last year supported the development of the concept behind the AgriJob.co.za website supported with additional funds.
Via the AgriJob website (www.agrijob.co.za) industry players can at a reasonable price advertise job opportunities, bursaries and holiday work that are available, and also obtain a recruitment service if needed. Students can, in turn, register their CVs and keep an eye open for opportunities that match their skills and needs.
"The platform creates opportunities for our industry to advertise positions, and for students and graduates to see what opportunities are available. In this way, we ensure that the skills base being developed by our universities can find a best fit in the agricultural sector," adds Monika Basson, who drives student recruitment for the SU Faculty of AgriSciences.
The day was concluded with a talk by Dr Johan van Zyl, co-chief executive officer of among other African Rainbow Capital that invests in the agricultural sector. He stressed that mankind cannot go forward without the products provided by the agricultural sector. He said that industries should work increasingly smarter with the available land to their disposal, to ensure that enough food is available for the world's growing population.
"The agricultural sector is one of the five most important industries that will eventually determine what humankind will be able to achieve. Yes, there are opportunities to make money, but also to do good in the process and help mankind, "he stressed. "The nice thing of the agricultural sector is that you can do the right thing and do it right."
He said people working in the agricultural sector often have important practical problemsolving skills that are an asset to any undertaking.
- The companies and organisations that were part of the SU day were: Shoprite Checkers Freshmark, SA National Seed Organisation (SANSOR), Corteva AgriScience, Villa Crop Protection, Citrus Academy, Hortgro, SA Table Grape Industry, Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum, Westfalia Fruit, York Timbers, PACSys, ANB Investments, Afrupro, RSA Market Agents, CGT by PMA (Produce Marketing Association), Distell, SGS, NSF, AgriConnect, Red Meat Producers Organisation and Milk Producers Organisation.
- For more information, visit-www.agrijob.co.za or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.