Young people and women boost Australia’s agricultural workforce

Australia’s agricultural workforce is growing and getting younger, according to the latest Insights snapshot released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics Sciences (ABARES).

ABARES Executive Director Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds said that the proportion of under 35 year olds working in agriculture was on the rise.

“While those working in agriculture are older on average than the general workforce the proportion of under 35 year olds has risen over the past five years to 24 per cent in 2016. Of those young people 30 per cent are women, up two per cent from 2011,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said.

“The paper released today provides a snapshot of the characteristics and diversity of people that contribute to Australian agriculture.

“Around 11 per cent of the agricultural workforce is from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, one per cent were Indigenous and 30 per cent were women in 2016.

“More people are also entering the agricultural industry with numbers rising four per cent between 2011 and 2016, with 82 per cent of them living outside of capital cities.

“The share of women is up very slightly, accounting for 32 per cent of the workforce. Women are more likely to be managers, and traditionally provide the lion’s share of off-farm income (over 80 percent in 2009).

“The contribution that 87,525 farm families make to Australian agriculture is very important. The snapshot showed that in 2016, 18 per cent of the agricultural workforce was a contributing family member, compared to one per cent in the general
Australian workforce.

“The snapshot also identified an emerging trend of an increasing proportion of women and young people working in agriculture attaining non-school certificate level or higher qualifications, with the proportion rising by seven per cent for women and five per cent for young people between 2011 and 2016.

“These insights highlight the importance of understanding how our agricultural workforce is evolving, and being on the front foot to ensure we have the skilled and sustainable workforce needed for a growing and prosperous agricultural sector.”

The full Snapshot of Australia’s Agricultural Workforce is available at:

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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