The National Science Foundation-funded research project entitled “Strategic FEW (food, energy, water) and Workforce Investments to Enhance Viability of Controlled Environment Agriculture in Metropolitan Areas” (CEA Viability in Metro Areas) seeks to help the CEA industry develop a skilled workforce that will allow it to scale. As part of this project, Anu Rangarajan's team has conducted research to understand the workforce/labor needs of the broader hydroponics industry (greenhouse and indoor vertical farms). The project has surveyed dozens of stakeholders.
In 2019, twelve industry members were brought together in an intensive Designing a Curriculum (DACUM) workshop whereby participants reflected on the skills sets required to be an Indoor Farm Operations Manager. The chart is currently being reviewed by peer growers worldwide, who are being asked to respond to how important each skill set is and how frequently it is conducted. Based on stakeholder input the chart will be used as a starting point for prioritizing training modules. Next, a deeper analysis of each skill will be conducted in order to translate this research into a teachable vocational curriculum.
In this presentation, preliminary research findings will be shared, ongoing efforts outlined to develop a solid empirical basis for CEA workforce development training programs, and GLASE webinar audience members will be invited to participate in this important study.