Western Growers Debuts New Agtech Career Development Pipeline; Dave Puglia Discusses
IRVINE, CA - Western Growers (WG) is laying the groundwork for the next generation of industry leaders. Recently, the association announced a new launch set to bolster its workforce development efforts, debuting five initiatives aimed at transitioning the agriculture workforce to master developing agricultural technology. The five new initiatives comprise WG’s Agtech Workforce Readiness Campaign, a resourceful agtech career development pipeline.
“We need agtech startups and technology experts to help us automate key functions such as harvesting, weeding, and thinning,” said Western Growers President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Puglia. “As their innovations come forward, we will need trained and creative people to work on our farms and in our facilities who are adept in everything from agriculture and agronomy to data analytics and technology integration. These initiatives are designed to make sure we get there on time.”
According to a press release, the new WG Agtech Workforce Readiness Campaign includes:
- AgTechX Ed: A statewide initiative aimed at developing a future workforce with the skills and knowledge to navigate emerging on-farm technology
- NextGen Curriculum Development: A project that will address the need for agriculture worker education by developing a curriculum that can be leveraged across campuses in the University of California, California State University, and California Community College systems to provide the training needed for agtech expertise for the next-gen agricultural workforce
- Careers in Ag: A career pathways program encourages college students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers within the agricultural industry
- Junior AgSharks: Students from middle and high schools in rural areas are invited to serve as AgSharks, where they listen to pitches from agtech startups and vet their technologies as well as learn about the latest technologies by interacting with leaders in the agriculture industry and venture capitalist space
- Home for the Holidays: An annual professional mixer where college students are invited to an exclusive meet-and-greet with agriculture industry leaders and technology companies
“The Careers in Ag Program reinforced my desire to work in the ag industry,” said Anahi Huerta, one of the 250 students who have participated in the Careers in Ag Program. “During the program, I was exposed to the variety of careers available in ag. When I graduated from [University of California,] Davis, I was offered a position at a farm in California’s Coachella Valley and have been able to apply my managerial economics degree to my current role as food safety coordinator.”
WG set its focus on agtech workforce development in 2016, when it launched its career pathway program, Careers in AG. With the development of innovative new agtech solutions occurring at a rapid rate over the past few years, the association has amplified its efforts to meet the growing demand for workers with a diverse skillset.
In addition to the new initiatives, WG also launched the Agtech Workforce Readiness Campaign website. As noted in the release, the website serves as a one-stop-shop where stakeholders can find information about WG’s initiatives, learn about students who are already making a difference in the workforce, hear directly from farmers about workforce needs, and join the cause.
AndNowUKnow will continue to report on the vital new resources helping to advance our industry, so keep an eye out for our next update.