Smart farming technologies and new job opportunities in rural areas
Automation, robotics and data capture and management systems can make farming less complex and labour intensive and thus more and attractive as a job opportunity. In addition, the adoption of smart farming technologies can create new job opportunities in rural areas, contributing to counter rural population decline.
However, information on the uses and advantages of Smart Farming technologies needs to be disseminated among farmers so as to foster their adoption. In addition, farmers will need to acquire new skills in order to work with them. Potential workers will also need to know which skills they need to acquire and where they can receive training to get these skills in order to have access to smart farming new job opportunities.
The SFATE (Smart Farm Training for Employment) ERASMUS + project has created a web portal to share information with farmers, agriculture students and teachers, advisers, and other actors on available Smart Farming technologies, their functionality and the advantages they offer. The platform provides information on the job opportunities that the adoption of smart farming technologies can create and the skills which are needed to use them. In addition, a database is available to users of the platform where they can find training resources to gain these skills.
The SFATE project has also made a report analysing the information of the platform. The report concludes that in the future, farmers and advisers will need data analysis skills in order to be able to use the potential of all the information that smart farming technologies provide. For instance, automated hydroponic systems will be key for ensuring growing urban population food security and new specialists combining agriculture and automation knowledge will be required. Given that technologies evolve quickly and information and communication technologies offer new opportunities for training and lifelong learning, regulated agriculture training programmes should be made more flexible in order to certify skills acquired informally and better prepare students for requirements of changing labour markets.