Journal of Research in Technical Careers


agriculture, community college, Delphi, industry needs assessment, skills


Agricultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Vocational Education


Community colleges have a strong history of providing vocational education and occupational training to meet changing workforce demands of local industries. In the Midwest, agricultural industries have expressed an expanding need for middle-skilled workers with postsecondary, prebaccalaureate credentials. The 21st century agricultural landscape has changed as a result of the need for efficiency and sustainability, and resulting emergent agricultural technologies. Community colleges will be integral to establishing a qualified agriculture workforce for entry-level, middle-skilled positions. This study utilized a modified Delphi approach to identify entry-level workplace competencies needed by graduates of a community college agriculture program. Delphi panel experts represented leaders from the agronomy-based agriculture industry within the college’s district, and initially identified 87 desired workforce competencies. Fifty-eight competencies achieved consensus from the Delphi panel and were categorized by themes: soft skills (26), agronomy-based technical skills (12), technology-based technical skills (9), agriculture mechanic/operator-based technical skills (3), general technical skills (4), and agribusiness-based technical skills (4). Results of this study can be used to inform community college agriculture program development and can be used as a case study for assessing workforce needs of local agricultural industries.