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Updated 20 Jul 2018

Why you should invest in agriculture skills development

The agriculture industry is experiencing an aging working force. Investing in skills development can assist with the continued competitively and profitability of your agribusiness. 

Nicole Crampton, 12 October 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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“The population from which agriculture will draw the next several generations of employees will be under 30 years old,” according to the World Economic Forum. This means you’ll experience a reasonable number of skilled workers aging out of your agribusiness. It also means you need to implement upskilling and HR strategies to ensure your agribusiness remains competitive and your workers’ skills keep pace with your agribusiness’ growth. 

Related: Skills development defined


The working-age population in Africa is expected to grow 70%, or by approximately 450 million people by 2035, according to the World Economic Forum’sAfrica Competitiveness Report 2017. The report suggests that if you don’t have a strategy in place to upskill younger generations, you might find your agribusiness without the necessary skilled workers to remain competitive.

Upskilling the youth of South Africa not only means that you’re improving the economy, it also means that you’re teaching your workers of the future the skills they need to help your agribusiness dominate the industry.

The benefits of skills development 

Learning new skills can bolster your workers self-esteem and make them feel more valued and less likely to be replaced should your agribusiness experience a downturn. Because you are giving these workers time to train, they see that you value them and are willing to invest in them. This can result in you having less staff churn and increased retention rates amongst your workers. 

Providing for skills upliftment can help them advance in their careers and have better prospects and earn better salaries, motivating them to work harder for you as their knowledge-enabler. “They’re upskilled, ready to do new and different tasks, which keeps them motivated and fresh,” says WorkReady, a training service provider. 

Secure the future through education


According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations: “Education can improve significantly the efficacy of training and agricultural extension work which in turn affect agricultural production through:

  • Enhancing the productivity of inputs, including labour.
  • Reducing the costs of acquiring and using information about production technology that can increase productive efficiency.
  • Facilitating entrepreneurship and responses to changing market conditions and technological developments.

Related: Follow these steps when drafting your agri business plan

Skills development techniques, short courses and mobile training facilities

There are several businesses across South Africa that are aimed at upskilling agriculture workers, such as MASDT, which offers diversified agri training. MASDT is mobile, allowing farmers to train and practically learn on their own farm land, while they continue with farming activities. 

Agri Skills Transfer is another business offering training in primary and secondary agriculture disciplines. The company offers training, short courses and distance learning to accommodate all of your workers. 

If you don’t want to hire outside companies, you can always develop your own in-house training. This will give your workers some time every week to spend on upskilling, which will prevent the loss of skills when your current workers age out of your business.


  • Hire a training company to upskill your workers so that they can earn certifications in specific departments.
  • Or, offer your own on-site training for the youth and your current workers to improve their skills and develop the knowledge needed to keep your agribusiness competitive.
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About the author

Nicole Crampton

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