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Malkah Lara Muckenschnabl

Creation date: 19 November 2021

Introducing Malkah Lara Muckenschnabl


Malkah Lara Muckenschnabl is one of two winners of the first FMC LEAD Scholarship. She is agribusiness graduate with a major bank and has qualifications in commerce and entrepreneurship. She secured her place as an inaugural winner with an essay that explored what sustainable agriculture means and what practices and behaviours need to change to feed the growing world. She believes the answers lie with the people who work in the agri sector – and the way we recruit them.


Following is some of what she had to say.


Sustainability in Australian agriculture to me is as simple as the ability to sustain a skilled workforce so we can continue to feed the growing world. By default, changes in specialised areas such as policy, innovation, and Ag Tech will follow.


I was at the 2021 GRDC event in Bendigo VIC where a guest speaker devoted 45 minutes to highlighting the difficulty of finding employees and the broken transition of generation Y+ into the Australian agriculture workforce. Two sentences in and a farmer from the crowd yelled out, “where are they?!”. No one in the room could respond. I am convinced the problem is a generational gap in the way we recruit.


Let’s first understand how we recruit today and why young adults are unmotivated to apply. Starting with the self-inflicted painfully slow decision-making in the recruitment selection process. The information age has changed the generational attention span due to social media and the amount of information that is presented to the public.


We are in a generation where this virtual world has increased a sense of social anxiety which has caused detrimental setbacks for young Australians, one being confidence. Traditional recruitment requiring individuals to formally apply online using a professional resume and cover letter to be evaluated has become a daunting process. Not only does it start the job with a judgemental barrier between the employee and employer but in some instances applicants will go through this process and only meet their immediate boss once hired.


Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just chat about it?


Imagine a dating app for finding work, where you swipe left and right to show interest in jobs and applicants. The idea is to use algorithms based on your profile as an employee and requirements as an employer to shortlist and rank candidates from most to least suitable on your feed. All applicants and employers would initially create a profile by filling out a questionnaire in symbol form where key appetite features are determined, such as willingness to relocate, length of employment, years of experience and level of flexibility.


As an employer recruiting you would have access to a pool of applicants whom you can swipe right on to show your interest in them, eliminating the one-sided application process. In this day in age, it is extremely encouraging for applicants, and the key to building relationships is to know that both parties care and are actively seeking to find the right person.


So, is it a lack of innovation in sustainability or is it a generational gap in recruitment? After discovering a core issue in what is a large and diverse topic in sustainability, I believe without sustaining people in agriculture we cannot even continue to feed the current population. By making young generations more accessible to Australian agriculture, we are bringing ideas, innovation, growth and imminent improvement in our behaviours and practices.


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