Employer Expectations of 21st Century Entry-Level Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications Graduates: A Qualitative Study
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Preparing students for the agricultural and natural resource workforce requires university agricultural programs that consider the needs of industry. This investigation sought to explore employer expectations of entry-level agricultural leadership, education, and communications graduates through a qualitative lens. The purpose was to determine the knowledge competencies desired and needed by employers and determine if graduates are meeting those needs. Twenty-three purposively selected employers participated based on their prior hiring history and involvement in the Agriculture and Life Sciences Career Fair at Texas A&M University from the years 2012 - 2017. Cross comparative analysis was used to analyze the data, revealing specific categories. Those categories were further sorted into themes. Themes for agricultural leadership were culture, criteria for hiring, high impact experiences, innate characteristics possessed by agricultural leadership students and evaluation of first-year hires. Themes for agricultural science teacher education and agricultural communications included characteristics desired by employers; ability to adapt to a changing environment; areas of improvement; perceptions of high impact experiences; youth; community; and experience, evaluating and following up with first year hires. Findings revealed that students majoring in agricultural leadership, education, and communications are meeting a portion of employer needs; however, there are employer needs that remain unmet. The importance and need for career and professional development in the university classroom was a critical finding. Additionally, findings support the need for future research related to high impact experiences for college students and further research to determine techniques to prepare students to gain workforce skills.
high impact experiences
Scasta, Jennifer Ann (2018). Employer Expectations of 21st Century Entry-Level Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications Graduates: A Qualitative Study. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from