A new strategic approach to meet the skills needs of rural Scotland has been launched with the support of Scotland’s Rural College.
The Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland aims to address skill shortages, demographic challenges, and how to attract and retain new talent, by enhancing work-based learning and increasing access to education and skills provision.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing launched the action plan at SRUC’s Barony Campus in Dumfries today.
He said: “Faced with the fast-paced changes occurring in our workforce, it is absolutely vital that we ensure people continue to have the skills required to enable them to develop and succeed in their working life.
“With the rural economy being a major source of growth, nurturing key sectors such as food and drink, energy and the creative industries, this new approach will help individuals to develop the skills required for jobs across rural Scotland – both now and in the future.
“By better understanding the skills requirements of rural businesses, we can seek to provide more tailored, accessible education and training that will help to upskill and retain people in rural areas, which is essential for the future sustainability of our rural communities and businesses.”
The plan was developed by Skills Development Scotland in collaboration with SRUC’s Academic Director Jamie Newbold and Commercial Business Manager Graeme Ligertwood, together with other stakeholders.
Professor Wayne Powell with Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn
SRUC Principal and Chief Executive Professor Wayne Powell said: “We at Scotland’s Rural College clearly have an important role to play, not only through our courses but in our Modern Apprenticeship programme and our close relationships with industry.
“Employers are finding it increasingly difficult to attract talent, while young people struggle to find both opportunities and vacancies in the rural sector.
“We are creating pipelines of new entrants by engaging with, and developing, school programmes which move onto Modern Apprenticeships – or campus provision.”
As part of the plan to meet the skills needs of rural Scotland, SRUC is supporting companies across the country to recruit and train apprentices.
Nearly 40 people will start on pre-apprenticeship programmes – which provide the foundation skills needed to do a full apprenticeship – next week, including 25 with Ringlink Scotland in the north east, seven with Tarff Valley in the south west, and five with Borders Machinery Ring in the south east.
These programmes include three-week induction and training programmes at SRUC’s Aberdeen and Barony campuses.