Education and Workforce Development

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Education and Workforce Development Working Group Annual Update

The Education and Workforce Development Working Group and its regional WEB Task Forces will be focused on promoting attendance at the 12 Workforce Summits that will be taking place around the state from October through November. These summits are sponsored by the 12 Rural Development Councils (RDCs) under the auspices of the Department of Labor. If we want agriculture and the rest of the food system in this state to have a place at the table it is imperative that we are well represented in the broader workforce conversation.

In early 2019, Career Profiles and Pathways Task Force of the Working group released the “Exploring Food Systems Careers” guidebook, a new resource which digs into the wide range of jobs within our food system and where to acquire the necessary skills. The guidebook shows that not only is farming a great career option, but there are also many ways for other interests and skills to be put to use in strengthening our food system, even in jobs not always associated with food and farming.

“Exploring Food System Careers” includes occupational titles and descriptions, wage and job opening data, and potential next steps towards each career, including associate’s and bachelor’s degrees as well as certificate programs and continuing education.

The Working Group has also begun exploring the potential to organize a Governor’s Institute style “camp” for teens next summer that would be covering agriculture as a potential career path. The intent is that the Robtoy Farm in Jeffersonville, which is the lab farm for Green Mountain Technology and Career Center (GMTCC), would be the venue with classrooms/dorms/food service at NVU – Johnson being utilized as well.

There are a number of efforts being organized to offer apprenticeships in food system businesses including the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, recently launched in Vermont, and work from outside the state to develop a program for organic vegetables. The Working Group will be supporting their further development and will be looking to help get them launched statewide.

- John Mandeville & Liz Ruffa, Group Chairs