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Research aims to boost rural industry


Zuleika Henderson
19 May 2008
A Southern Cross University researcher is taking a close look at how agricultural employers can help to make staying in rural and regional communities more attractive for young professionals.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) student Dr Jay Cummins said the research aimed to identify the factors that encouraged young skilled workers to remain with an employer in the farming industry.

“Young professionals are often involved in vital work such as increasing the efficiency of farming systems and helping to introduce new farming practices, yet they can be hard for employers to attract and retain,” said Dr Cummins.

“I will be carrying out case studies on around 20 young professionals in the international agricultural industry and will examine features like working environment, personal characteristics and workplace culture to determine what motivates them to stay or leave an organisation.”

Dr Cummins is one of 70 doctoral candidates and academic staff attending the Graduate College of Management’s bi-annual Doctoral Symposium at the Tweed Gold Coast campus this weekend.

A wide range of topics currently under the research microscope will be discussed including emergency services volunteers, event design for festivals and succession planning in family businesses.

Director of the International Centre for Professional Doctorates Associate Professor Peter Miller said the symposium gave candidates the chance to meet like minded people.

“Each of the research projects conducted by these candidates examines a particular aspect of business that will make a significant contribution to knowledge in this field,” said Professor Miller.

“The symposium is important because it allows for the exchange of ideas and feedback between students, and prevents the research from becoming an isolating experience.”

As business manager for Sustainable Agricultural Systems team at Rural Solutions, and with a PhD in farmer adoption of technology, Dr Cummins knows first hand the issues his research will help employers tackle.

“Young professional people will play a key role in supporting farmers as they face potential challenges such as climate change and the development of sustainable agricultural systems,” he said.

“The research findings should help to provide agricultural firms with a guide to better managing their young skilled employees to encourage a long term commitment to the organisation.”

The two-day symposium will be held on Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25 at the Tweed Gold Coast campus.