Skills agenda focuses on five archetypes of farm workers

Meet the Decider, the Enabler, the Specialist, the Doer and the Adviser.

That might sound like the roster of a role-playing game, but they are in fact the archetypes that Royal Bank of Canada believes will dominate farming’s future.

“An ambitious skills agenda could help reposition Canada as a more efficient, sustainable and competitive leader in agriculture,” said RBC in its Farmer 4.0 report, which called for a major increase in agricultural skills training for farmers, workers and specialists and advisers.

Who are these future farm archetypes?

The Decider

The Decider is the owner-manager of an agricultural operation. He or she will make the crucial financial and production decisions. In the future those will require more skills and greater understanding.

What skills do they most need to develop? More critical thinking, states the report.

The Enabler

The Enabler is the skilled worker who can handle the future farm’s changing tasks, including managing automated systems to handling electronics and dealing with software issues.

“Enablers will increasingly need to come from outside agriculture, from fields like engineering and computer science, raising the need for more education programs that cut across disciplines.”

The Specialist

The Specialist is a person with highly refined technical skills in specific agricultural areas, from plant science to livestock management to regulatory compliance.

“They’ll have to be skilled in data analytics and precision agriculture, with an ability to communicate and collaborate with specialists from non-agricultural fields such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and intellectual property rights.”

But they’ll need soft skills too.

“Their biggest needs? Judgment and decision-making, followed by active listening.”

The Doer

The Doer is today’s basic farmhand or barn worker. In many industries these jobs are dominated by foreign seasonal workers.

In coming years, there will be more demand for these sorts of low-skilled workers as farming becomes more productive and there is more to manage and harvest, but as simple tasks are automated they will have trouble remaining valuable unless they boost their skills to match the needs of future farm production.

The Doer will need to evolve from today’s level of skills to a higher level to play the role required by future farms.

The Adviser

The Adviser is the highly educated and experienced specialist who offers skills to farm managers. The agronomists and data analysts of today will only grow in relevance and worth as farming demands greater and greater efficiency and maximization of land, labour, other assets and systems.

“To excel, advisers will need foundational skills that include critical thinking, communications and math.”

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