Modern agribusiness needs good generalists

Olds College School of Agriculture, Land and Environment is “making sweeping, timely changes to its diploma programs,” the Alberta college announced in December. Beginning in September 2009, Olds College will offer its new Agricultural Management Diploma, blending the strengths of soon-to-be-retired diplomas in Agricultural Business, Crop & Agri Food Technology, and Agricultural Production.

Students within the Agricultural Management Diploma program choose between majors in finance, marketing and production. A bioprocessing and distribution major will be added to the diploma program in 2010.

Why the change? Olds College interviewed agricultural employers and producers across Alberta to find out what the industry expected from agricultural graduates. “What came out clearly is that modern agribusinesses need good generalists. Agriculture is very much about integrating multiple elements, not just about a single discipline,” says Joel Gingrich, chair of the School.

“Somebody who is interested in going back to the farm can still do that.” says Gingrich. “But now, more than ever, they also have the option of taking that education and carrying on into agribusiness — where there is a greater abundance and diversity of jobs than ever before.”

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