By Diane Smith,

Jobfarm co-ordinator

Year on year, new entrants into rural careers are decreasing, student numbers going into some rural apprenticeships are either static or declining, and feedback from further education authorities indicate that completion rates for rural apprenticeships are poor.

Rural employers also echo similar recruitment concerns with some vacancies taking more than 12 months to fill.

There is much to be done within the industry and at JobFarm we truly believe that the way to best plug this gap is to start communication from an early age. We should start with younger generations and attract the young workforce into the rural sector.

In order to do this, we need to showcase the varied, interesting and rewarding opportunities available in the rural sector. Those currently working in the sector must show young people the diverse careers and different learning paths available to them.

By being accessible, accommodating and open to change, we can begin to encourage new entrants to the sector and fill the roles that are otherwise lying empty.

Launched as a RHASS ‘Presidential Initiative’ in 2018, JobFarm will now be funded by the charitable agricultural organisation for a further two years. Developing an online hub, JobFarm will allow host farms and students to connect and explore opportunities together to improve the recruitment rates in the industry.

Aiming to plug a small part of the careers gap, JobFarm has a vision to create and become the go-to organisation for rural work placements. This will be done by providing work placement opportunities to S3 and S4 students around Scotland, while also working with and supporting host farms to provide opportunities.

We also hope it will work across industries within the rural sector, including agriculture, land-based engineering, horticulture, equine, aquaculture, forestry and game and wildlife.

The host farms we currently work with are mostly run as single entities and therefore need our support with a number of associated challenges. Many are not familiar or comfortable with succession planning or hosting a young person, so the team at JobFarm will provide a support service, offering help and advice on insurance and how to manage the work placement.

While it can go a long way to helping the rural sector with recruitment, it is only one piece of the puzzle – to be truly successful, we must work with our partners from all of the learning sectors.

JobFarm has a presence on the Skills for Farming group, supported by DYW, Lantra, NFUS, SDS, Scottish Government, Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) and Borders College, which this year is hosting several events and publications aimed at encouraging young people into rural careers.

Working with teachers, career advisors and other S3 and S4 influencers will be key to reaching out to the young workforce and new entrants to the industry, and at JobFarm we are exploring all links with these groups.

We are also exploring opportunities to develop any learnings from the dairy pilot apprentice scheme and the D and G land-based award. There is a lot of collaboration between the varied learning authorities and JobFarm is an integral part of these groups.

Are you a rural enterprise who is struggling with recruitment? Do you have students looking for rural work placement opportunities? Are you a student who is looking for some work experience, or simply wants to know more about a different rural sector? Then JobFarm could help.

* For more information visit or email Diane at