World Aquaculture - June 2023

24 JUNE 2023 • WORLD AQUACULTURE • WWW.WAS.ORG extension programming. Job and skill training teaches skills and competencies for an employee’s job function. Workforce development extends beyond teaching the technical knowledge needed by an employee for their current job. Workforce development programs are generally long-term and provide stackable credentials employees will need throughout their career. Stackable credentials are a series of degrees or formal trainings that allow one to work in a chosen field as they progress to higher skill occupations. Equally important in workforce development programs is the need to provide wrap-around services for participants of workforce development programs. Wrap-around services can include travel and lodging support, child care, work release, stipends and food. Collectively, skill training and workforce development programs empower employees to be competitive in the job market and successful in their day-to-day lives. Knowledge, Skills and Abilities Knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA) are specific qualifications and personal characteristics that are required for a specific job. The employer identifies the KSAs an employee needs to be successful at their job. These employer-driven KSAs form the core of workforce development programs. A few examples of KSAs in aquaculture include: 1) Knowledge in areas such as water chemistry, brookstock management, spawning, regulations, basic science, feeding, marketing and financial management; 2) Skills include equipment operation, gear repair, farm design, plumbing, electrical and welding and 3) Abilities include working with a team, communication, critical thinking, punctuality, social media marketing, good work ethic, ability to learn, networking, problem solving, customer service, working with diverse groups and conflict resolution. In addition to the examples provided above, Thier (2023) identified 11 KSAs that will likely become more important over the next five years: 1) Creative thinking, 2) Analytical thinking, 3) Technological literacy, 4) Curiosity and lifelong learning, 5) Resilience, flexibility and agility, 6) Systems thinking, 7) A.I. and big data, 8) Motivation and self-awareness, 9) Talent management, 10) Service orientation and customer service and 11) Leadership and social influence. (e.g., Twitter, Instagram or Facebook). Aquaculture America 2023 A three-hour workforce development session was held during the Aquaculture America 2023 conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The session was one of many National Aquaculture Association Producer Workshops that are organized for farmers who attend Aquaculture America conferences. There were ten presentations covering a wide-range of workforce programs from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Gulf of Mexico regions. The presentations were followed by a 45-min audience input session where participants answered a series of aquaculture workforce questions. Summaries of each presentation and a summary of the audience input session follow. Farm-Raised Catfish The farm-raised catfish industry is one of the more mature aquaculture industries in the US, with the first commercial ponds appearing in the mid-1960s. Most of the key research needs to support industry development were available before 1980. Extension programming has been ongoing in the major producing states for almost 50 years. Most of the workforce development efforts on behalf of the catfish industry have been conducted by Extension through workshops, research seminars, field demonstrations, fact sheets, newsletters, videos and on-site visits. Associate degree programs through community college programs had limited success due to weak connections to industry, few apprenticeship opportunities and low entry-level salaries. Extension programming efforts can be characterized as educating prospective producers, training labor, technology training to owners/operators, regulatory compliance, leadership development and exit strategies. During the growth phase of the catfish industry (roughly 1985 until 2003), trade shows showcasing needed equipment and services and workshops featuring production and economic considerations were developed for prospective producers. As farms increased in size, labor was hired and training was needed in areas such as water quality testing and maintenance, farm safety, hatchery management and flavor quality evaluation. Technology transfer efforts have targeted owners and management, providing detailed training on topics such as production of hybrid catfish, fish health management, predation control, intensive production systems and advanced harvest technologies. Due to the increasingly burdensome regulatory environment, programs on the proper use of chemicals and reporting/ application requirements for predator deterrence were developed. FIGURE 3. USDA 2019 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) results of women operators in agriculture. Aquaculture falls under other livestock.