A competitive workforce is vital to establishing a sustainable agricultural future. As innovation continues to impact agriculture, current and future farmers, workers and scientists must learn to use more advanced technologies and draw from a broader base of scientific knowledge. Workforce development programs are intended to help current and future workers and scientists meet the demands of highly skilled positions.
Importance of Workforce Development
A huge constraint to addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges – increasing agricultural production to feed a growing population and increasing industrial demand, despite most natural resources being already fully utilized – is growth in human talent. Hence, in addition to indirectly supporting educational opportunities through capacity building programs at Minority Serving Institutions and Learning and Engagement Programs, NIFA directly supports recruitment and training of students through grants to educational institutions for Workforce Development Programs.
NIFA is helping to expand the agricultural workforce by supporting programs that:
- Fund scholarships for students pursuing undergraduate degrees in agriculture-related fields
- Provide research and extension experiences through structured programs that incorporate mentoring and hands-on experiences in the United States or abroad
- Train graduate students in targeted disciplines of national importance in USDA mission relevant areas
- Support Pre-doctoral and post-doctoral students to help advance food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences.
Grant Programs that Support Workforce Development
- Agriculture and Food Research Initiative's Education and Workforce Development
- Research and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates (REEU) Program
- Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships
- Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program (MSP)
- National Needs Graduate and Postgraduate Fellowship Program (NNF)