Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland
Scotland's rural economy has an important role to play through the significant contribution it makes to national economic output, and in providing employment opportunities for the people who live in our country's rural, remote and coastal communities. The Scottish Government understands that its people are the key to driving forward our rural communities, making them sustainable and inclusive places to live, work and thrive.
The Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland sets out the Scottish Government's strategic approach to support the skills-needs of the rural economy by addressing skills shortages, talent retention and attraction, demographic challenges through enhanced work-based learning pathways, and by increasing access to education and skills provision in rural areas. It seeks to ensure that people in rural communities and businesses have the right skills now and in the future.
The Action Plan has a clear focus on collaborative action across rural Scotland, and will support sectoral and regional Skills Investment Plans and the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan to bring skills demand and supply closer together in our rural areas.
The Scottish Government, through the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland, seeks to ensure that we have the right people with the right skills, and support inclusive growth.
Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan
The Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (CESAP) is central to the Scottish Government's ambitions to create a future workforce that can support our transition to a net zero economy. The rural economy is poised to play an important role in this transition. Scotland's rural areas help counter national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and can make a significant impact through the planting of trees, peatland restoration, and the generation and adoption of renewable energy.
Potential opportunities for jobs growth and skills implication were identified across five broad areas of economic activity that will make a significant contribution to net zero transition. These areas reflect national priorities and investment within the Scottish Government's Programme for Government to reduce energy demand and GHG emissions and adapt to climate change:
- Energy transition (including oil and gas, on and offshore wind, hydrogen, electricity, carbon capture and storage);
- Construction, (including the retrofitting of housing and non-residential properties);
- Transport (including road transport, railways, domestic aviation, shipping and aircraft support vehicles);
- Manufacturing (with a focus on engineering); and
- Agriculture and land use management (including forestry).
Agriculture and land use make a dual contribution to the net zero target, with the ability to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture, whilst also increasing the levels of carbon dioxide bring absorbed through peatland restoration. The transition to net zero by 2045 will transform our economy and society.
The Scottish Government, through the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, will support or create significant numbers of additional green jobs in rural and remote areas of Scotland, with associated skills development and training.
Digital skills development is critical across the economy and a key driver of economic and inclusive growth. The Scottish Government has invested £26 million over the past six years to support businesses and individuals to develop their digital skills.
Through its 'Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics' (STEM) strategy, the Scottish Government is helping to improve and grow the digital skills base. The Scottish Government will make sure that the approach is inclusive, and that there is equality of access and opportunity to study and pursue STEM jobs and careers. STEM has never been more relevant than it is today as we face a global climate emergency.
The Scottish Government has invested £3 million in CodeClan, Scotland's first industry-led digital skills academy, offering students an intensive four month training programme with direct access to employers and an opportunity to attain a professional qualification. Over 950 graduates have now emerged from the course and into the jobs market. CodeClan Highlands has trained two cohorts of web developers and formed partnerships with more than 20 employers in the region.
Through investment to DigitalBoost, the Scottish Government continues to support small and medium-sized enterprises, helping them become more aware and develop skills to digitalise their processes. The Digital Development Loan enables businesses to borrow up to £100,000 for the purpose of improving their digital capabilities, including development of digital skills for staff.
In May 2019, the Scottish Government launched the £1 million Digital Start Fund, an inclusive growth policy which aims to assist those on low incomes or in receipt of benefits to gain digital qualifications and enter the labour market. A number of providers have been awarded funding to support those living in rural areas, including the University of Highlands and Islands, delivering cyber, data and software development courses jointly with ScotlandIS, and to North Highland College delivering cyber training.
The Scottish Government will continue to improve Scotland's digital skills base, and provide opportunities for under-represented groups, such as women.
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