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Plant and Food Science Will Cultivate Talents for All Parts of the Food System

Leading figures from Aarhus University's new education programs met one afternoon in May with representatives from the business community. The aim was to gain insights into how graduates from fields such as Plant and Food Science can become as attractive and relevant as possible in future workplaces.

Photo: Ida Brems

On May 7, 2024, Aarhus University took an important step for two of its new educations, which will open this summer at the AU Viborg campus. Among others, Associate Professor Hanne Lakkenborg from the Department of Food outlined the topics and plans for future students in Plant and Food Science.

She and other leading figures from the new programs had invited business representatives to Agro Business Park for an afternoon of presentations and workshops on making the new programs in Animal Science and Plant and Food Science as relevant as possible for the future job market.

Collaboration with the surrounding community is crucial for the Faculty of Technical Sciences, which aims to contribute to green solutions for society. Sustainability was a prominent theme in the event titled "Shape the Workforce of the Future - Collaborate with AU Viborg on the Green Transition."

In addition to the two programs in Animal Science and Plant and Food Science, Aarhus University will also launch a new veterinary program this summer. Expectations are high, and ambitions are great. With an expected 800-900 students, the AU Viborg campus is set to become a center for green education in agriculture and food production.

Therefore, it was essential to gain insights from the business community and local educational institutions on the next generation of highly specialized workforce in the green sector.

High professionalism and commercial understanding

The afternoon was intended as a platform for dialogue and idea exchange, and it served that purpose well.

Vice Dean for education at the Faculty of Technical Sciences, Finn Borchsenius, set the stage, and Hanne Lakkenborg gave participants a unique insight into the content and direction of Plant and Food Science.

Following this, Ole Green, CEO of Agrointelli, and Niels Nørskov, Project Manager at Erhvervshus Midtjylland, provided their perspectives on the job market. Their insights emphasized the need for strong scientific expertise complemented by an understanding of economics, sustainability, and the commercial mindset that drives agriculture and private companies. The graduates' high level of expertise must be supplemented by the ability to communicate and apply their knowledge in real-world contexts.

Digital competencies and critical thinking

In a workshop, participants were asked to share their views on future challenges and needs, as well as how private and public companies and actors can be involved during the three years of bachelor's and two years of master's programs. This led to many valuable discussions and exchanges of ideas and knowledge.

The final program point was a panel discussion that underscored the need to bridge theory and practice. Participants such as Lars Møgelbjerg Andersen, headmaster at Asmildkloster Agricultural School, and Lene Klemensen Gade, principal at Viborg Gymnasium, shared their experiences with the aspirations and ambitions of young people. The necessity to integrate digital competencies into education was highlighted by Ivar Ravn from Seges Innovation. Finally, the panel noted that no one knows what skills the newly educated will need in ten years, so they must learn to acquire new knowledge along the way.

The day was marked by a shared commitment to creating robust and relevant programs, including practical experience and know-how through collaborations on bachelor's and master's projects, student jobs, or internships.