Theme-Logo SEDCOR Ag, Food Processing and Technology Dashboard

Introduction:

It is important to realize that all “ tech” jobs are not isolated within “tech” industry classifications. In Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley, as the agriculture industry and related supply chain industries (such as food processing, equipment manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and logistics) adopt new technologies, high-skilled “tech” employees will be increasingly sought-after. We see the traditional pathway from STEM education to tech industry job broadening a great deal to include what are often considered non-tech sectors, including agriculture and food/beverage processing. 

In this dashboard, we will offer a clear picture of current tech adoption in the Willamette Valley’s agricultural supply chain. Through this data, we wish to inspire employers, employees, students, and educators to think creatively about how high-tech knowledge and skills can help our growing region become even more competitive in an increasingly global marketplace. 

STEM Workforce in Agribusiness and Food Processing:
It may surprise some the level of high-tech jobs already within Willamette Valley agribusiness. While some of the numbers may be relatively low, the rate of growth of those jobs in the agriculture and food processing industries is significant. As as growers and processors continue to adopt mechanization, automation, and data-driven crop and field management, we expect the number of high-tech workers and the value of their labor to increase even more. 

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STEM Jobs in Industry

$77.4k

Median Salary

Salary Range:
Many do not realize how valuable STEM skills are within agribusinesses. And, as more firms in ag and ag-adjacent industries adopt robotics, drone surveillance, machine learning, data-driven decision making and other high-tech solutions, these jobs will only become more commonplace, and the competition for skilled workers more intense.


452

Total Job Postings in Last 5 Years

117

Postings for IT Positions

STEM Job Postings Trend:
Just within the last two years, STEM job postings have experienced immense growth, tripling in that time period and continuing to rise. Large processing firms and smaller independent farming operations are competing for high-skilled employees with specialized STEM education and work experience. One major challenge is promoting these  job opportunities to students who may not be aware that local industries provide such career paths.

In-demand Skills Compared to Talent Pool:
It may surprise a lot of people to learn that among the most in-demand skills in agriculture is coding. As seen in the dashboard data, in-demand skills for agribusiness range from proficiency in software languages like Python and Java, to cloud computing know-how in Azure and Amazon Web Services. Currently, the pool of qualified workers does not match the demand. This supply/demand issue represents an opportunity for STEM students to seek meaningful, long-term career opportunities within Willamette Valley ag industries. 

Science and Engineering Degrees in Local Higher Ed:
Training a tech-savvy workforce will be even more critical for Willamette Valley producers to successfully compete in national and international food and fiber markets. Tech adoption could greatly increase the efficiency of local producers, but only if they have the skills on-site to make that adoption possible. This not only provides an opportunity for STEM students in the region’s schools, but also for incumbent workers who could move up new career ladders through basic computer training and related skills enhancement.

Diversity In Agribusiness, Food Processing and Technology:
In the three-county region, diversity in the agribusiness, food processing and technology industries is between 36-45%; however, increasing leadership roles and ownership opportunities for diverse populations is an ongoing opportunity. Building dedicated pathways that are both culturally and linguistically relevant for STEM career advancement in these industries will retain as well as attract diverse talent.


Ag, Food Processing and Technology Workforce by Age:
We believe as the current agriculture workforce advances toward retirement age, it will be increasingly vital for younger age groups to be drawn towards ag and ag-adjacent industries. First, more young students must find their way to STEM programs. They then must be shown how applicable and valuable their skills are to producers in the Willamette Valley, and that agriculture and related businesses provide career ladders that allow for future advancement and growth opportunities. 


Supply Chain: In-region and Imported:
Agriculture is not exclusive to farm and farmer. Our region is unique in that it provides opportunities in a variety of industries that comprise the links of the agriculture supply chain  . Over 200 crops are grown in the Willamette Valley, the most crop diversity of any region in the United States. But we just don’t grow crops; we process, store, package and transport those crops to markets around the world. We also build the equipment that harvests and processes many of the crops grown in the Willamette Valley. Our agriculture base provides STEM opportunities in a variety of industries, from food science labs to logistics. Moreover, many of the professional and technical services providers in the Mid-Valley work closely with local growers, processors, and manufacturers.