3. Transitioning from the EU
In addition to supporting recovery from the pandemic, Year 2 of NTTF had a broader role to play in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery. As part of this, the Fund aimed to target provision to sectors that have been disproportionately hit by the impact of EU Exit. Upskilling and retraining opportunities were introduced to promote the retention and attraction of a talented, skilled workforce. Seafood and rural industries were identified as needing significant support. Delivery partners included Scottish Enterprise (SE), the Scottish Crofting Federation, LANTRA and Confor.
Building on the success of its pilot in Year 1, the Redesigning Rural project was reintroduced in Year 2 by SE, with the aim of developing opportunities for businesses and providing support to individuals within the sector that have been negatively impacted by EU Exit and the pandemic. Leveraging the network of Scotland’s Rural Leaders (graduates of the Rural Leadership Programme, one of SE’s flagship programmes), the project reached out to the network with an ‘ask’ – to provide interesting and worthwhile job placements for a period of 10 weeks. The project succeeded in providing 51 placements across 46 businesses, with 67% of Scotland’s Rural Leaders confirming they would continue to work with their placement. Redesigning Rural again created long-lasting benefit to both individuals and to businesses of Scotland’s Rural Leaders looking to create new opportunities and test new markets in the post-pandemic and EU Exit environment.
Crofting Skills for Local Food
Delivered by the Scottish Crofting Federation, the Crofting Skills for Local Food project offered an opportunity to support crofters to develop skills that would help them create and contribute to robust local food supply chains throughout the Highlands and Islands. Overall, the project supported 220 individuals and 13 businesses through NTTF funding. A diverse range of courses were offered to individuals, with 85% of participants stating that the training helped them to consider new ways of working. The Scottish Crofting Federation feel that the project went some way to support crofters and their local communities to be better integrated, providing access to a greater variety and quantity of croft-produced, locally-sourced, nature-friendly food and products, reducing carbon impact by lowering food miles, and improving community resilience to supply system shocks.
Springboard for Skills
Building on the demand for and success of the project in Year 1, Lantra’s Springboard for Rural Skills facilitated effective mentoring and provided on-going support, professional development, diversification and networking opportunities for instructors and assessors (including those working in seasonal roles). The project succeeded in directly supporting 32 individuals and 32 businesses, with training providers, such as the Scottish agricultural and rural business Machinery Rings, also benefiting from access to a wider pool of freelance instructors. The main benefit of the project for many participants was the diversification of skills and business services. It has also helped participating small rural businesses to diversify and become more resilient in the post-pandemic and EU Exit environment.
Fast Track Forest Machine Operator & Timber Haulage Operator Familiarisation
Recognising the disruptive impact of the EU Exit on the forestry industry, NTTF funding in conjunction with Scottish Forestry funding supported Confor to provide two training programmes for the sector. The Fast Track Forest Machine Operator (FMO) project was a short training programme that fast-tracked new entrants and gave them skills to allow them to gain employment as an FMO. The Timber Haulage Operator Familiarisation project offered a four-day intensive course to support hauliers to develop the specialist skills needed for forestry haulage to gain employment. Across the two programmes, 25 individuals and seven businesses were supported through training. The majority of participants expressed a desire to enter the industry after completing the training, with several having already gained employment.
Seafood Business Improvement Programme
The seafood sector has been significantly impacted by EU Exit, in addition to the disruption caused by the pandemic. To boost this sector, the Seafood Business Improvement Programme was administered by SDS and delivered in partnership with Polaris Learning, Scottish Seafood Association and Seafish.
This project aimed to deliver a package of training options based on identification of sector needs to build skills capacity within the industry. There were two components to the Programme: a training element of 44 courses and a bitesize webinar element of seven sessions. The former was delivered through a blended and in-person format with the webinar programme delivered online, recorded and made available on the Seafood Scotland website.
The provision has enabled a total of 150 individuals to upskill and retrain within the sector and has supported 21 businesses. Many new businesses and individuals accessed skills support for the first time through the programme. The project has undoubtedly created a demand for this type of support within the sector and Seafood Scotland are exploring ways in which the progress can be built upon in the future.
Seafood Business Improvement Programme
Laeso Fish, who are based in Peterhead were an early participant in the Seafood Business Improvement Programme with staff taking part in over 40 training interventions. Quality Assurance Manager, David Park, commented that the business would not have undertaken training on this scale were it not for the programme. Staff have benefited from the courses not just in their day to day duties but are also gaining confidence and awareness and that there is an expectation that the business will benefit from improved productivity resulting from the training.
In addition, staff attended courses such as Food Authentication which would not have been seen as beneficial had a full training needs assessment not taken place at the outset of their participation. David feels that this scheme has very definite benefits for the individuals, the business and for the broader industry. In summing up their participation in the scheme, David commented that this was a ‘great scheme’ and exactly what the industry needed after the challenging time since 2020. The only downside of the programme was the required paperwork which was administrative and felt a disproportionate burden on the business.
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