Exploring adolescents’ perceptions of dairy farming careers in Ireland: views of students studying agricultural science in secondary school
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CitationM. Beecher, A. Ryan and M. Gorman. Exploring adolescents’ perceptions of dairy farming careers in Ireland: views of students studying agricultural science in secondary school. Irish Journal of Agricultural and Food Research. DOI: 10.15212/ijafr-2022-0008
AbstractA global challenge for dairy farmers is the attraction and retention of people to careers in primary agriculture. This study aimed to explore the perceptions of Irish secondary-level students studying agricultural science towards careers in dairy farming. Quantitative data were collected via a national survey (n = 976) prior to collection of qualitative data via two focus groups. Descriptive statistics including frequencies, percentages and means were used to analyse the quantitative data. Data analysis of the survey results identified general themes, which contributed to a deductive assessment of the overarching hypothesis, supplemented by inductive reasoning based on the analysis of the data from the focus groups. From the survey, adolescents perceived dairy farming as a physically demanding job with a poor work–life balance without any extra financial reward compared to other careers. In the focus groups, participants expressed concerns about environmental sustainability and economic viability. They also identified the ageing farming population as making it a less attractive career for young people. The paper supports arguments for greater integration of actual labour market opportunities into the secondary school curriculum to raise aspirations for 21st century careers in dairy farming, among other careers. There is an opportunity within the agricultural science curriculum to encourage students to explore the wide spectrum of emerging careers in food systems including dairy farming through classroom discussion, ideally with a variety of role models employed in the agricultural sector.
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