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Many employers rate new entrants with a high school diploma deficient in their preparation for entry-level jobs. Research indicated that the majority of employees throughout the workforce in the study have a high school level education. That said, there is a large number of employment in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s), and the vast economic contributions they deliver to local communities, the need for individuals with employable skills are in high demand. The purpose of the study was to identify the desired employability skills needed by entry-level employees entering the profession in CAFO’s within the swine, dairy, and fed-beef industries. The target population of the study consisted of corporate office managers, general managers, assistant general managers, and departmental managers within the top 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle and the adjacent counties bordering New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Industries referenced ‘Honesty/Integrity’ as an important skill, if not the greatest interpersonal skill, identified. Another valued skill that employers desired among their employees was ‘Dependability/Dedication to the Job’. Employer’s desire employees that show reliability and dependability to the industry to not only do the right thing, but accomplish the goals of the enterprise in a timely manner.
Among the three industries, one of the largest mean weighed discrepancy scores throughout the CAFO’s studied was the need for ‘Animal Management/Animal Welfare’. This indicated that employers in all industries of the CAFO’s desired that their employees
were properly trained on how to properly manage animals of a particular species and that an animal’s well-being takes priority. The safety and humane treatment of all animal species is of the upmost importance to any CAFO. Closely related trainings that was observed as needs for all industries were proper ‘Livestock Handling Procedures’ and ‘Proper Safety Procedures’. Many times in CAFO’s, these two skill areas coincide with one another. As mentioned above, the safety of the animal is priority to any CAFO industry, likewise is the safety to all of an industries employees.
A chi-square statistical test was used to determine if differences existed among the swine, dairy, and fed-beef industries as they relate to the importance level of interpersonal, communication, computer, and technical skills. The test revealed that there was not a significant difference among the three industries. The results indicated that all three industries in the study desired entry-level employees that attain the same type of skill sets throughout the observed CAFO’s.
In the measurement of life skills needed, all industries unanimously ranked the opportunity of general work experience and/or manual labor as the most valued skill area an employee could possess. Many students can develop these skills desired in an entry-level position by acquiring employment through general work placement programs, internships, or on-the-job trainings.
Room for improved curriculum, education, and trainings at the secondary and post-secondary levels will always have a need in order to educate the future workforce. The results of the study should be shared with graduates, undergraduates, and high school age students prior to entering any type of scholastic programs and/or job workforce training. The study provided baseline data in regard to the perception of employers in the swine, dairy, and fed-beef industries that manage people a daily basis on the preparedness level of their employees. A qualitative research study such as one on one interviews and focus groups throughout each swine, dairy, and fed-beef industry should be considered as to gather specific skills and traits needed from employees.



employability skills, CAFO, industry needs


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