Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence
Agriculture is a $135 billion industry facing an aging workforce. Attrition, growing demand for certain products, and advancing technologies will result in a workforce deficit in a number of career paths over the next decade. Of those anticipated vacancies, the department has identified the 25 most in-demand occupations, which span sectors like production agriculture; animal health and veterinary services; landscaping; food manufacturing, forestry, lumber and wood products; and conservation and natural resources.
In recognition of future workforce needs, the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture (PDA) and Education (PDE) have produced a comprehensive agricultural education report for schools across the commonwealth and have created a 15-member Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence. The commission will operate under the concurrent authority of PDA and PDE, and is charged with assisting in the development of a statewide plan for agricultural education and coordinating the implementation of related programming with both departments. As part of PDA's workforce development plan, the Department is working to identify gaps in education and training for those in-demand career paths; focus on work-based learning, including micro-credentials and apprenticeships; and help Pennsylvanians obtain meaningful careers on the way to finding solutions to the shortage of talent in the near and long-term.
In his 2018-19 budget, Governor Wolf proposed PAsmart – a first-of-its-kind workforce development proposal to invest $50 million for STEM and computer science education, support hands-on technical education programs, and encourage employers and schools to work together to help students get the skills employers need. The proposal provides for an additional $10 million investment in career readiness programs, allowing high school students to earn both a diploma and post-secondary credentials and helping non-traditional students and workers earn post-secondary credits and credentials aligned to in-demand careers.