New blueprint for Scotland's rural economy: recommendations to Scottish Ministers

The National Council of Rural Advisers' report detailing their final recommendations to Scottish Ministers.

Annex 2: What Rural Thinks: Findings From Our National Conversation

Our consultation process was built around three themes:

  • Vision – creating a narrative for rural Scotland
  • People – investing in talent and creating opportunities in rural Scotland
  • Infrastructure – enabling success in rural Scotland

In this section, we outline some of the key messages shared with us by participants in our workshops and in response to the consultation paper, and describe how these have shaped our recommendations. [9]

Shaping a bold vision

Support for an ambitious vision for Scotland's rural economy was unanimous amongst those we consulted. There is now a mandate to approach rurality in a different way, that delivers results for all of Scotland.

In particular, respondents pointed to the need for this vision to embrace innovation and collaboration, and to look to new sectors for new opportunities.

It is important to work together, building on each other's expertise
and findings and being careful to avoid the creation of new
organisations which duplicate work and lack joined up thinking
...We stress the importance of collaboration and having a united
approach from a government level and down to grassroots
organisations for this to be achieved.

Scottish Land and Estates

The jobs of the future will be located in rural as well as urban
areas. The importance of innovation in supporting economic
growth is equally important in the rural setting. There is a growing
application of digital technologies to the rural setting whether
through the use of satellite navigation for crop management and
harvesting, the use of drones for asset survey and management
and new packaging techniques that enhance the life of products.

Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership

Investing in the people of rural Scotland

Consultation respondents told us we must do more to meet the unique needs of the rural labour market through the creation of quality job opportunities that are well paid, flexible, and purposeful. Engaging the education sector and promoting skills development will allow businesses to connect and grow. And through better use of data, we must do more to tackle exclusion and inequality, supporting economic and social development as well as quality of life.

Investing in our social infrastructure and showcasing the advantages of rural life will help attract and retain a new generation who are excited to live in rural Scotland, in turn creating a sustainable workforce and helping local businesses and communities thrive.

In food and drink manufacturing we have a skills shortage and will
need to recruit 19,000 new people to the industry by 2024. We
have a shortage of STEM qualified people particularly engineers
and food technologists. There is good provision for young people
who want to enter the food and drink industry

Food and Drink Federation

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 services.

Bòrd na Gàidhlig

Creating an effective rural infrastructure

There are many advantages to living and working in rural Scotland, but access to services often falls short compared to urban areas. It may not be realistic to expect equivalence of provision, but we must strive for equivalence of outcome.

Regulation across a range of issues – particularly in relation to housing and business support – is often impractical or even damaging in rural areas. And at the community level, there are opportunities where we must do more to support collaborative solutions and community access to sustainable funding.

Improvements to digital and physical connectivity are essential. We need place-based solutions to provide reliable, affordable transport links and fast broadband.

The procurement and commissioning policies of many Councils,
NHS services and other public bodies undermine the rural
economy rather than support it. There would be a significant
impact if they did more to encourage small, micro and family
businesses, and locally based providers.

Outside the Box

Opportunities to share ideas and closer working between rural
and urban Scotland could come from the concept of "business
accelerators", with its emphasis upon peer to peer learning.
However, the majority of such organisations in Scotland are based
in urban areas. Therefore, we suggest the addition to the model of
an urban-rural knowledge exchange dimension.

James Hutton Institute



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