Together we can, together we will: analysis of consultation responses

This report details the analysis of the National Council of Rural Advisers' (NCRA) consultation.

People: Further discussion of themes

Discussion on skills required for a thriving rural economy

  • Sector specific skills, for example, those related to:
    • Tourism, particularly the soft skills needed to engage with visitors as well as specific skills around aspects of outdoor activity that are currently growing including Scotland as a destination for mountain biking and other adventure sports.
    • The food and drink industry, including the broader need for STEM qualified workers in the sector, such as engineers and food technologies.
    • Forestry, farming, fishing, horticulture, agribusiness, agriculture, game keeping, ghillies, stalkers and land management skills. In these comments some participants urged for rural apprenticeships and incentives for people to enter these industries.
  • Business skills including marketing, finance, human resources and legal practitioners. Participants repeatedly spoke of the range of core skills and services small businesses need or require access to, in order to be successful.
  • Creativity and entrepreneurial skills, these were noted as important to enable current and future growth of the rural economy. Creative examples mentioned by respondents included developing innovative experiential tourism such as agri-tourism and digital industries.
  • Community development skills. Many respondents referred to the important role of community development activity and described a need for resourcing and skills development to embed these practices and realise their full potential for Scotland’s rural areas.
  • Skills for core service provision including health, social care and teaching. Respondents highlighted that remote rural areas struggle to fill and replace crucial positions.

People: Additional illustrative quotes

Business support which brings micro businesses together to deliver skills training are important. These help to spread the cost and deliver training where is it required. Online courses are also helpful as travelling to the central belt for training is costly and time consuming. Support for the creation of shared workspaces, such as small units would be welcomed but demand is often hidden.
Scottish Land and Estates

The provision for quality and affordable co-working space has the potential to tackle inequalities by providing opportunity for businesses to grow, peer to peer learning whilst also combating social isolation and promoting inclusion.
Name withheld (Organisation)

There should be a “no wrong door” approach for business, with information-sharing, collaboration and reciprocal signposting of products and services more deeply embedded across the public sector.
Food and Drink Federation

Digital Enterprise Hubs – Establishing hubs in rural towns which businesses can use or visit for better connectivity, start-up workspace, hot-desk space and training.
Scottish Countryside Alliance

Investment in a business ‘hub’, there are lots of small and micro businesses in my community all operating as independent traders. Empowering e.g. the community council to host business connectivity sessions in the village hall may start the ball rolling.

To tackle such inequalities we recommend ensuring that any future rural economic strategy is integrated with other public policy in rural regions.
Name withheld (Organisation)

Through mainstream policy and legislative measures (e.g. gender pay gap disclosure, taxation, barrier-free housing etc). More equal societies do better.
Nourish Scotland

‘Rural proofing’ policies and approaches and having addressing inequalities as the key priority can help focus public sector interventions in particular.
East Lothian Council

At a farming level, many farms continue to be inherited by male children, although this is changing in some individual businesses. More education and awareness that 'farmers' is not a male term and that both men and women are equally capable of owning and running a farming business is required.

Succession is also an issue in many farming businesses with often people in their 60s and 70s making key decisions, owning capital and title deeds. This prevents younger people running the business. Maybe only giving subsidies to businesses that have ownership of people less than age 60 would help.

Adopting a mainstream ‘gender-aware’ approach to all enterprise and growth policies is critical to meet the needs of women led businesses in rural Scotland and to unlock the economic potential.
Women’s Enterprise

Considerable evidence already available on the lack of “fit” of largely urban-based measures of poverty and disadvantage (e.g. SIMD) and of affordable housing measures, to rural Scotland.
Scotland’s Rural College

We need more detailed labour market intelligence for all rural sector - Standard Industrial ( SIC) and Occupational ( SOC) classifications constrain detailed research analysis, planning and action, for example by placing all land-based, predominantly rural, occupations into 5 unit groups under the minor group of ‘Agriculture and Related Trades’.

Evidencing issues for sections of the communities in rural Scotland is often hampered by lack of data collection – particularly across groups with protected characteristics. Disaggregated data is essential across all protected groups so that effective policy development and measurement is standard.
Women’s Enterprise

The lack of data available about the impacts of policies or needs of rural communities can stifle rural economic growth.
Scottish Land and Estates

Lack of access to local Human Resources, legal and other professional services is a barrier to business growth.
Name withheld (Organisation)

Overall there are still gaps and difficulties in recruiting staff across specific skill sets and sectors: tradesmen/skilled labour (electrician, mechanic etc.); chefs; administrative staff; professional/technical; caring occupations; teaching; aquaculture and fishing; construction; and renewables, agriculture and forestry.
Name withheld (Organisation)

One of the main challenges facing island and rural communities is retaining an economically active population. This will require innovative solutions from a range of partners in relation to employment, affordable housing, quality child and health care, affordable and reliable transport links and connection to high speed broadband and mobile.
Bòrd na Gàidhlig

More apprenticeship and graduate apprenticeship opportunities to support young people to stay and work in rural areas.
Name withheld (Organisation)

Secondary education should include more about land management and the job opportunities there are.
Confor: Confederation of Forest Industries ( UK)

Make more of 'Meal Makers' in rural areas. This is a great way of connecting older or infirm people with those interested in food regardless of education and ethnic background.

Practical/technical training and continuous professional development or life-long learning for the established workforce, including improved health and safety, occupational competence, business development, diversification, self-employment, tendering for contracts, leadership and management skills, are integral to the developing economy.

Further opportunities for life-long learning in rural areas – for example, work based courses or online courses. This will ensure that people have the opportunity to use practical experience and/or remote based learning to gain knowledge and skills.
Scottish Land and Estates

Schools should view vocational qualifications and further education with parity of esteem.
Name withheld (Organisation)

Create spaces in rural places where people of different backgrounds can come together more often and encourage conversations. These can often be learning hubs where old, young and in between can come together to learn all sorts of things. Make more of 'Meal Makers' in rural areas.

Better public transport, twinning between communities, support for community development trusts and those working to protect green spaces and the environment.

The higher level of older people living in rural areas should be considered and mechanisms put in place to ensure adequate public and/or community transport services are provided to mitigate the issues associated with lack of access to services. […] Similarly, adequate transport solutions need to be found for young people who may struggle to afford a car and are either to access further education or […] employment.
Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership

We need to ensure there are opportunities for communities to come together. This is especially important when we look at age as most social activities are age segregated and this can be felt especially strongly in the rural areas. Challenges due to age can be tackled through intergenerational projects, be that community gardens, nurseries or cycling projects that bring younger and older people together.
Generations Working Together

There is already a thriving agricultural community on Twitter, though younger members of our organisation have WhatsApp and Snapchat groups. That in itself is a problem where forums change; would there be a possibility of a managed forum for farming ideas, but with a monitored host? Creating local area meetings for a particular type of business where like-minded people can meet up to discuss and share ideas.
National Sheep Association

Work-based skills development should be strengthened to capture the potential productivity gains from digital technologies by ensuring that workers have the range of coinciding digital, analytical and ‘soft’ skills, for example through ‘super users’ in SMEs and the wider use of the Scottish Union Learning course on basic digital skills.

It is important that the higher proportion of older people living in rural areas is not seen as a problem, which is implied by some local rural strategies. Older people make a significant contribution to their communities in buying goods and services form local retailers and businesses and in their roles as volunteers and informal carers and friends.
Outside the Box

There is a need to look at developing young people in rural areas and encouraging them to come forward to be part of organisations in their community. For example, resourcing of mentoring programmes between young people and more experienced older community representatives and/or business owners in local areas could be piloted. Supporting positive action programmes and pilot schemes target specific groups and encourage engagement in different sectors should be developed.
Women’s Enterprise

Courts and tribunal services are increasingly moving to online systems, for example employment tribunal applications are now almost exclusively online and it is envisaged that criminal procedural courts will move to digital systems in coming years. […] Individuals in rural areas who are eligible for legal aid may not be able to find solicitors to provide advice.
Law Society of Scotland



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