World Aquaculture - June 2023

WWW.WAS.ORG • WORLD AQUACULTURE • JUNE 2023 23 percent of all farming operations as a primary or secondary farm operator (Whitt and Todd 2021, Fig. 3). Internationally, in countries such as Japan, women make up 51 percent of the workforce in marine aquaculture and 31 percent in freshwater aquaculture (Brugere and Williams 2017). There is a significant data gap in quantifying how many minorities are involved in aquaculture in the US. However, there is a growing interest among minority-serving high schools to incorporate aquaculture into the classroom (Fig. 4). Workforce Development Workforce development from a societal perspective is defined as initiatives that educate and train individuals to meet the needs of current and future businesses to maintain a sustainable competitive economic environment for the industry (Haralson 2020). Land Grant and Sea Grant Extension, in partnership with the businesses, colleges and universities, trade schools, community colleges and non-profit organizations, provide workforce programs to US agriculture (Hatch et al. 2018, Sherin and Burkhart-Kriesel 2018). Extension’s Involvement in Workforce Development The roots of Extension can be traced back to trainings to create a technically competent workforce (Smith-Lever Act 1914, National Sea Grant College Program Act 1966). Extension programs can be placed into two broad categories: job and skill training and workforce development. Job or skill training is the most common approach in Over many decades, US aquaculture has experienced multiple disasters including flooding, droughts, pandemics, oil spills, recessions and tropical storms that have negatively impacted the economy, the environment and the people living and working in aquaculture communities. The compounded negative effects of disasters threaten the resiliency and sustainability of farming communities. Supporting the workforce needs of the seafood industry is one of many indicators of a farm’s overall resilience (Sempier et al. 2022). There are an estimated 3600 US businesses that employ an estimated 10,229 people in the fish and seafood aquaculture industry in the US (Seiler 2023). The worldwide COVID pandemic severely affected these businesses, highlighting the importance of an aquaculture workforce that experienced high unemployment in 2020 (14.7 percent in April 2020) when primary markets were not buying seafood. US unemployment is currently low (3.7 percent in May 2023) that has led to a shortage of qualified employees (Figs. 1 and 2). Women are an integral part of US agriculture, involved in 51 More Than Training: Workforce Development Programs to Meet the Needs of Employers and Employees Jamie Anderson, Jimmy Avery, Imani Black, Christian Brayden, David Cerino, Michael Ciaramella, Azure Cygler, Carissa Maurin, Bryan Snyder, LaDon Swann and M. Scarlett Tudor (CONTINUED ON PAGE 24) FIGURE 1. Help wanted sign for an oyster farm in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. FIGURE 2. Alabama oyster farming family completing the Oyster Farming Resilience Index.