The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

New bid to grow pupils’ interest in rural careers

Education: Youngsters invited on skills day SRUC’s Professor Davy McCracken offers an insight into work at the college’s hill and mountain research centre


A large proportion of Scotland’s remote, rural areas are sparsely populated.

Research by colleagues in the James Hutton Institute has also indicated that across many of these areas – but particular­ly in Argyll & Bute and the north-west Highlands – the population is predicted to decline markedly over the next 40 years.

If this happens, the social structure and resilience of these rural communitie­s will be impacted severely.

So too will be the ability to maintain farming and forestry in these areas or conduct the environmen­tal management needed to address Scotland’s biodiversi­ty and climate change challenges.

It will therefore be important to reverse these population declines by encouragin­g more young people to either stay or move into these areas.

There are many different factors – such as availabili­ty of affordable housing and access to education and health services – which will need to be addressed to achieve this.

But ensuring that young people see working in rural areas as being attractive will also be key.

The Developing the Young Workforce Initiative is a Scottish Government supported programme which aims to bridge the gap between education and employers by providing young people with the right education, training and experience to get into fulfilling jobs and careers.

The initiative has identified that neither secondary school pupils nor their teachers realise what a wide range of careers is available in rural areas nor how technical many of the jobs in land-based industries have become.

To help address these gaps in understand­ing, we have organised a Rural Skills Day on the farms at the end of the month.

Colleagues in the Developing the Young Workforce Initiative have encouraged and supported around 100 secondary school pupils from across Perth & Kinross, Forth Valley, Lochaber and Argyll & Bute to attend.

In addition to input from farm and research staff from Kirkton & Auchtertyr­e, we will also have demonstrat­ions from colleagues from across SRUC and partners such as the Moredun Research Institute, Scottish Environmen­t Protection Agency, Scottish Forestry and Geo Geo (a Scottish technology company which supports and advocates the widespread adoption of state-of-the-art mapping tools).

The intent is to highlight that there is a wide range of jobs available in rural areas which involve the applicatio­n of different types of technology.

We will also help the pupils realise what skills and qualificat­ions they need if they were interested in pursuing any of the careers demonstrat­ed and discussed during the day.

 ??  ?? CHALLENGE: Schools and teachers are not aware of the wide variety of careers available in rural areas
CHALLENGE: Schools and teachers are not aware of the wide variety of careers available in rural areas
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