SCOT GOV has announced £5million to support women returning to work after a career break, as part of the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan.

The funding will look to support up to 2000 women returning to work in sectors such as agriculture where they are under-represented, bringing their skills up to date and providing access to work experience placements to ease the transition back into the working environment.

Ahead of the Highland show, Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie announced three new pilot training programmes developed by the Women in Agriculture Taskforce which will be aimed specifically at women living or working in agriculture.

These include a ‘Women in Agriculture Leadership Development Programme’ which will look to empower more women in the sector to enter leadership positions. A ‘Knowing your Business’ pilot which will equip women with tools to drive forward their businesses and a ‘Be Your Best Self’ scheme which will aim to help women build more confidence, explore new possibilities and make new connections.

Ms McKelvie commented: “We know that women are key contributors to our rural economy. We also know that being a woman in agriculture can be particularly challenging, especially if you have caring responsibilities, develop your business, go to work and look after your family – often in remote or isolated areas.

“It is because we value women in the rural economy so highly, I am pleased to announce the launch of three pilot training programmes aimed at empowering women to be the best they can be – by supporting them to develop their talents, take up leadership roles, and return to work,” she enthused.

Co-Chair of the Women in Agriculture Taskforce Joyce Campbell added:

“It’s important for all women living and working in Scottish agriculture to access all of the Scottish Government available funded opportunities, so that they can enhance their lives and get the most benefits they can for their businesses. These pilot training sessions will help to develop the next generation of women leaders within the agricultural industry, by providing them with the tools and confidence to excel.”

Rural Economy Secretary and co-chair of the Women in Agriculture Taskforce, Fergus Ewing affirmed his continued commitment to tackling the gender gap in the sector:

“This Government has a vision for Scotland to become a society where all women and girls are able to fulfil their potential, regardless of where they live or work, and the work of the Women in Agriculture Taskforce is a vital part of this.”

At last year’s Royal Highland Show, Mr Ewing announced £250,000 in funding towards improving access to training for women to tackle the gender gap and made clear his disappointment in the lack of women in office bearing positions within the sector.

“We are committed to investing in women living and working in Scottish agriculture because not only is it the right thing to do, we know that it makes sense,” he continued. “This funding and training pilots are an investment in our greatest asset – the people of rural Scotland – and will create a stronger, more resilient, sustainable rural economy.”