Skills Training

The ultimate goal of the agricultural meteorologist is to make a positive impact, in the face of the variability of weather and climate, on the livelihood of the agricultural community. To accomplish this they need basic skills and more refined professional skills to deliver the correct message in a timely and appropriate manner. There are several different types of skills that should be included in continuing education programmes for agricultural meteorologists. These include the basic skills of communication and numeracy, professional skills (including cognitive skills) and information technology skills (e.g. retrieval and analysis of weather datasets). If agricultural meteorologists are to succeed in their jobs and remain abreast of current developments, then all of these skills are necessary.

The training of agricultural meteorologists must address information gathering skills, as this will enable them to retrieve the latest information from various sources and include evaluating the sources and interpretation of the data (Gibbs, undated). These skills should include traditional library as well as networking skills and the ability to use contemporary technology. However, it is essential, with the availability of modern electronic technology, that agricultural meteorologists have computer skills at a level sufficient to allow them to search the Internet and download relevant information and data. At a minimum, basic computer literacy, spreadsheet and word processing skills are essential. In addition, they should also develop the necessary ability to "surf the web" and be able to discern the difference between information that is scientifically sound and correct and that which is poorly grounded. At least some agricultural meteorologist should acquire skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), statistical packages and international databases. Finally, but very importantly, once the agricultural meteorologist has acquired the appropriate information or data, they must know how to transform it into forms or products useful to the end user.

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