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«Plant Pathology and Entomology Capability Study Bruce Howie Managing Director C-Qual Agritelligence Pty Ltd Table of Contents Table of Contents ...»

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Plant

Pathology

and

Entomology

Capability

Study

Bruce Howie

Managing Director

C-Qual Agritelligence Pty Ltd

Table of Contents

Table

of

Contents

List

of

Tables

List

of

Figures

Executive

Summary

1.

Introduction

2.

Methodology

The

Survey

2012

3.

Capability

Academic

Standard

and

Accomplishment

Diversity

of

Capability

Organisational Distribution of Capability

Application of Capability

Future Demand for Capability

4. Age Profile and Service Expectations

Age Profile

Service Expectations

5. Education and Training

Training Priorities – Competency and Skills

Industry support for education and training

6. Issues that concern survey respondents

7. Conclusion

References

Acknowledgements

Statistical Limitations

Appendix A: Survey

Appendix B: Survey Results

–  –  –

Table 2: FTEs in plant pathology sub-discipline areas 2006 and 2012

Table 3: FTEs in entomology sub-discipline areas

Table 4: Organisation type classifications

Table 5: Distribution of plant pathology and entomology capability across organisation types

Table 6: Primary environment of plant pathologists and entomologists expressed as FTEs and percentage FTEs for both the 2006 and the 2012 surveys

Table 7: Primary focus of plant pathologists and entomologists represented as FTEs and a percentage of FTEs for both the 2006 and the 2012 surveys

Table 8: Age profile for each discipline - 2012

Table 9: Expected years of service for each discipline reported in the 2012 survey (2006 percentage shown in parenthesis).

Table 10: Expected years of service for plant pathology sub-disciplines reported in the 2012 survey (actual numbers)

Table 11: Expected years of service for entomology sub-disciplines reported in the2012 survey (actual numbers).

Table 12: Relationship between service expectations and likely reasons to leave plant pathology or entomology expressed as a percentage within each bracket of expected years of service. (2006 percentages are shown in parenthesis)........... 17 Table 13: Relationship between age range and likely reasons to leave plant pathology or entomology based on actual numbers of ‘Active’ respondents in each age bracket. The percentage of ‘Active’ respondents is shown in parenthesis........ 18 Table 14: Overall potential for employment and training support from the 2012 survey.

(2006 responses are shown in parenthesis)

Table 15: Level of concern expressed across a range of issues relating to employment 2012 (2006 percentage responses are shown in parenthesis)

Table 16: Level of concern expressed across a range of issues relating to future requirements within each discipline 2012 (2006 percentage responses are shown in parenthesis)

–  –  –

Figure 2: Years of experience in field of specialty 2012 survey (actual numbers).............. 10 Figure 3: Ranked importance of plant pathology sub-disciplines as assessed in both the 2006 and 2012 surveys

Figure 4: Relative current and future importance of plant pathology skills and competencies as ranked in the 2012 survey

Figure 5: Ranked importance of entomology sub-disciplines as assessed in both the 2006 and 2012 surveys

Figure 6: Relative current and future importance of entomology skills and competencies as ranked in the 2012 survey

Figure 7: Comparison of the percentage of overall plant pathologists in each age bracket as survey in 2006 and 2012

Figure 8: Comparison of the percentage of overall entomologists in each age bracket as surveyed in 2006 and 2012

Figure 9: Ranked importance of attributes in future staff appointments

Figure 10: Identification of training priorities as a percentage of all responses (n=160)..... 20 Figure 11: Word cloud indicating the range and frequency of various concerns impacting employment as noted in open responses (2012)

Figure 12: Word cloud indicating the range and frequency of various concerns about future capacity as noted in open responses (2012)

–  –  –

After consideration of the issues raised in the 2006 report and recognition that there remain concerns regarding the current and future capacity in these areas, the Australasian Plant Pathology Society (APPS) and the Australian Entomological Society (AES) jointly commissioned a follow-up survey intended to obtain an updated snapshot of the current capacity in plant pathology and entomology across Australian and New Zealand. The 2012 survey was intended to identify similarities and differences in perceptions of plant pathology and entomology capability along with any trends influencing capacity.

This report focuses on a review of the data gathered in the 2012 survey and comparison of the data with the 2006 survey. It highlights important shifts in the data that might inform decisions and strategic planning for meeting future requirements in plant pathology and entomology.





The 2012 survey followed a similar design to that which was conducted in 2006. Only minor variations were considered in order to ensure consistency for comparison of results. The survey was distributed to universities, state and national government entities, commercial industry, grower and industry associations.

At the close of the survey in excess of 400 responses were received, of which 333 were judged to be complete and became the basis for the analyses in this report. This compared with 359

complete surveys in 2006. The 2012 responses have been further broken down as follows:

–  –  –

The survey was constructed in two parts, each divided into a plant pathology section and an entomology section. Part A collected data from those working within the two disciplines including information about their organisation type, areas of speciality, age profile and activity focus as well as qualitative opinions regarding a range of issues affecting their work environment. Part B collected data from an organisational perspective including information about current capacity, future needs, sources of expertise and training perspectives.

Both Australia and New Zealand continue to have a strong academic achievement in the combined fields of plant pathology and entomology. In 2006 53% of respondents had PhD level qualifications whilst in 2012 this had risen markedly to 65%. Conversely undergraduate qualifications showed a decline to 16% in 2012 from 27% in 2006. This appears to reflect the reduced offerings at the undergraduate level and related fall in student numbers in the science faculties, especially in the fields of plant pathology and entomology.

Distribution of capability across plant pathology sub-disciplines is largely similar when the 2006 and 2012 surveys are compared, however, areas such as bacteriology and virology appear to have declined sharply in representation. Mycology remains the dominant sub-discipline area but there appears to be an upward shift in respondents reporting more generalist roles.

Taxonomy/systematics remains the leading sub-discipline area for entomology. However, there is a large proportion of respondents selecting ‘Other’ as their primary discipline then identifying ecology as their main area. Genetics and insect pathology are sub-discipline areas that appear to have declined in capacity.

V

PLANT PATHOLOGY AND ENTOMOLOGY CAPABILITY STUDY - 2012

Plant pathologists and entomologists are employed predominantly in government organisations, although there appears to be a decline overall in this sector since 2006. This is particularly the case in the ‘applied’ sector such as state departments of agriculture and frontline services to producers. A small increase in the government sector engaged in more strategic and basic research does not offset the decline in the applied sector.

The education sector accounts for around 20% of the overall employment of plant pathologists and entomologists, which is similar to 2006. Only 7% of respondents indicated employment in the commercial sector.

In terms of the application of capability, applied research dominates, followed by biosecurity, then strategic and basic research. Education/teaching remains at around 4% of full-time equivalents (FTEs) whilst there is a noticeable decline in extension and support services. It is not evident that the commercial sector sees itself as assuming these latter roles.

Agricultural and horticultural production dominate the primary focus of plant pathologists and entomologists and show little change in percentage FTEs between 2006 and 2012. In fact there are only small changes in primary focus across all areas. There has been an apparent loss of resource in agriculture storage, from an initial low figure in 2006 whilst there is an increase in the resource allocated to horticulture post-harvest.

In assessing the importance of specialty sub-discipline areas in plant pathology, respondents indicated that all remain important in 2012. Mycology, in particular, remains strong but, compared to the 2006 survey, there is increasing importance in the fields of nematology, molecular plant pathology and phytoplasmas. In entomology taxonomy/systematics continues to rate highest in importance with increasing importance in genetics and biochemistry.

The age profile of those employed in these two important disciplines has shifted sharply towards an older profile. The number of plant pathologists now in the over 55 age bracket has increased since 2006 with lower numbers now evident in the under 35 age brackets. It is a similar result for entomology.

These shifting profiles are of concern when put alongside service expectations. Of the 275 currently employed respondents, 28% will retire within the next 10 years and 40% within 15 years.

A further 12% will be lost due to other factors and, therefore, in excess of 50% of the current capacity requiring replacement within 15 years just to maintain the status quo.

At the same time, respondents over 45 tend to have a strong likelihood to remain in their specialist field until retirement. Not surprisingly, commitment through to retirement reduces as the age profile becomes younger. This is most evident in the 35-45 age bracket where 20% of the ‘Active’ respondents indicate the likelihood of leaving their field within the 15 year horizon.

Research, communication and practical skills tend to be the most sought after by employers of plant pathologists and entomologists. Interestingly, many with managerial responsibility don’t see their organisations as being particularly supportive of developing these skills internally. There is a tendency to seek post-graduates for employment, with the necessary skills already developed.

Willingness to employ undergraduates and support them through internal training and professional development appears to be low. This area may need closer examination.

Finally, the survey gathered information on the areas of concern for respondents. Areas such as employment opportunities, career progression, tenure/funding constraints and work pressure all drew very high to extremely high levels of concern. From open-ended responses other areas to emerge with high levels of concern included the serious loss of skills through, retirements and redundancies coupled with the widespread lack of succession planning to capture departing knowledge. Frequent reference to the inadequate intake of new talent was also a common response in this area.

The following areas for action and follow-up are proposed in the report:

–  –  –

In 2006 the then Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Crop Protection (CRCTPP) commissioned a survey to evaluate capability within Australia and New Zealand in the two important disciplines of plant pathology and entomology. The report on that survey is available on the CRCTPP legacy website (Howie, 2006). A number of issues were highlighted in that report,

which suggested the following be addressed:

–  –  –

As with the 2006 survey, the 2012 survey gathered information on the views of administrators and managers with insight into the current and future plant pathology and entomology needs of their organisations. This was intended to evaluate how well Australia and New Zealand are positioned to maintain their capability in the context of future industry and environmental needs. This included views on anticipated future priorities and various issues relating to employment, job satisfaction and training. It should be noted that the survey did not propose to quantify future needs; it was intended to obtain perceptions of future requirements around current areas of expertise and application.

This report focuses on a review of the data gathered in the 2012 survey and comparison of the data with the 2006 survey. It highlights important shifts in the data that might inform decisions and strategic planning for meeting future requirements in plant pathology and entomology.

PLANT PATHOLOGY AND ENTOMOLOGY CAPABILITY STUDY - 2012

There was a high level of consistency between the surveys in terms of the way in which respondents evaluated the issues. Similarities are evident in the range of specialities and various work environments, although there are some shifts in the distribution of plant pathologists and entomologists across the organisation types.

Important differences are evident in the age profiles of respondents, adding to existing concerns about the potential for significant loss of both capacity and capability from these specialist disciplines. In particular likely losses through retirement and change of career direction appear unlikely to be met by new and emerging talent

PLANT PATHOLOGY AND ENTOMOLOGY CAPABILITY STUDY - 20122. Methodology



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