Furthering Your Education On-The-Job
By Bonnie Johnson, AgCareers.com
Do you want to continue your training, work towards a higher degree, or just acquire a few new skills? Then it is good news that you’ve chosen the agricultural industry; ag employers use training and development as one of their top methods to motivate employees. To keep employees challenged and productive in their roles, nearly 70% of employers responding to the 2016-2017 AgCareers.com Agribusiness HR Review have training and development incentives in place.
Training may take place off-site or online in a formalized program, such as through a college or university. Almost half of U.S. ag employers offer financial assistance for external study or tuition reimbursement, while 65% of Canadian ag employers indicate they offer this benefit. Up to 10% of employers offer scholarships or study leave.
In addition to college courses, there are many opportunities to further your knowledge while on-the-job. Approximately half of ag employers offer formalized mentoring or coaching programs. More than half offer certificate courses, approximately 30% have accredited training, while the majority offer to cross-train for staff development. Ag employers may also offer traineeship or apprenticeships as career advancement initiatives.
How do you find out if or what your employer offers? Check out your employee handbook or the company career site first, then just ask your supervisor or human resources manager. When you determine the options, make sure you are prepared to articulate how this training would benefit you and your employer.
If you are searching for a new opportunity, make this one of the essential areas you explore in job descriptions. Companies will often mention tuition reimbursement as part of their comprehensive benefits package. This is also an excellent topic to bring up to your interviewer when you’re asked if you have any questions at the end of an interview – “Does your organization offer continuing education or professional development activities?”
Universities, colleges, and training organizations offer online education and certificate programs. For example, White Commercial Corporation offers a Grain Merchant Certification program, and Colorado State University offers Bachelor’s degrees in Ag Business and Horticulture, along with several online certificates, training, and digital badges. Check out AgCareers.com University Partners for more information.
You may also find local clubs or meetups where people in alike professions share ideas, host speakers, and learn from each other. Employers are often supportive of their employees’ participation in low-cost, educational events that can enhance their on-the-job knowledge and performance.
*The AgCareers.com Agribusiness HR Review is a survey of agriculture employers.