Scottish youngsters will be encouraged to take up careers in the rural sector as part of a scheme launched by youth employment minister Angela Constance at the Royal Highland Show.
The Route to Rural Employment (R2RE) initiative, developed by the Scottish Countryside Alliance, will provide educational materials for primary and secondary schools, as part of the Curriculum for Excellence, aimed at developing knowledge of rural employment opportunities.
It will develop work experience and group mentoring, as well as providing financial and administrative support to a number of youngsters entering the workplace on an apprenticeship or low wage so that their pay will equal a living wage.
Scottish Countryside Alliance director Jamie Stewart said R2RE not only supported youngsters, but the rural economy as a whole, which needed the next generation in order to survive and thrive.
“If you look at an area like the Highlands and Islands, it loses a massive wealth of potential and talent with young people moving away in their thousands year on year. It is a similar picture throughout Scotland,” said Mr Stewart.
“There is a myriad of career opportunities available – not just traditional routes such as farming. This programme aims to provide a route, from primary school through to leaving education, which helps young people develop the skills and experiences to secure sustainable employment in rural areas.”
In its first year, the five-year scheme aims to work with 300 primary school children, 200 secondary school children, and a further 100 youngsters readying themselves to enter the world of work.