Although each locality inevitably has its own mix of challenges
and problems, there a number of specific challenges that present in
rural Scotland. Formed in March 2011, the National Delivery Group:
Rural Sub-Group have identified the following issues:
- Equality of access and opportunity: Although
urban areas exhibit the most distinct, statistically significant
areas of deprivation and exclusion, people in rural areas often
face similarly significant barriers because of distance from
services and places of employment. The challenge in Scotland's
sparsely populated rural areas is to identify where clients are and
then deliver suitable services to them. Local knowledge and
experience, as well as Local Authority datasets, will often be
crucial to this, with SIMD statistics
unable to provide a fine enough 'grain' of data.
- Transport: Getting to employment is often one
of the most significant barriers for clients in rural Scotland.
Distances to workplaces can be significant, which has time and cost
implications. Public transport is often only a limited service
which may not be available at the times which work is available.
Often there will be no public transport between the locations
- Nature of employment: Employment in rural
areas is often seasonal, temporary or part-time due to the business
base in most rural areas depending heavily on tourism, food
processing and primary production.
- Access to FE/HE: Clients' ability to access FE or HE facilities
is often limited in rural areas compared to the facilities
available to those living in larger urban areas and cities. There
are FE institutions in most Local
Authority areas, but distance and travelling time is again a
challenge for many clients.
- Dependence on Micro-businesses: The business
base in rural Scotland is not just based on SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises). The
vast majority of businesses in rural areas are Micro-businesses
(with 9 or fewer employees). This means that a strong network of
contacts is required in order to successfully place clients.
- Lack of diversity: Generally there is a less
diverse range of job opportunities in rural areas with a dependence
on retail and hospitality sectors. This does vary from region to
region. The public sector often provides the most attractive
employment opportunities in rural areas, although this ability will
be diminished for the foreseeable future.
- Employment opportunities: The very small size
of most rural businesses means that they take on fewer new
employees so the opportunities to place clients are more limited.
They are also less likely to have the appropriate management
capacity to support those employees in the workplace.
- Limited pool of businesses with capacity to absorb
client group (risk for SME): The
very small size of most rural businesses means that they have less
capacity to take on employees where those employees may require
extra support and guidance in the workplace.
- Cost of providing services can be high:
Through experience, rural Local Authorities recognise that
providing services in rural areas, particularly the remoter areas,
can be more expensive than in other locations. The economies of
scale that can be achieved in cities and urban areas are not
available. It is especially important in rural areas to work in
partnership with other local agencies and actors to make most
efficient use of the resources available.
- Scale and economies of scale: The level of
service provision required in many rural areas is relatively low
(relatively small numbers of clients). These clients are often
dispersed over significant geographic areas, with poor
road/transport communications. Rural Local Authorities acknowledge
that this removes most opportunities to achieve economies of scale.
Local agencies and partnerships will need to work together to
deliver the services required in the most efficient way
- Where to deliver services: The services will
need to be delivered over large, sparsely populated geographic
areas. Commonly used data sets will often be ineffective in
assisting the service provider in identifying problem areas or
clusters. Close working with Local Authority and other Community
Planning Partnership partners will ensure that all available local
data/intelligence is available to help appropriately target
- Childcare issues: Access to childcare can be a
limiting factor for people taking up employment opportunities, or
being able to travel for employment services/training.
- Migrant workers: There are significant numbers
of migrant workers in some rural areas. These workers have
traditionally been involved in food production and food processing,
but many are also employed in tourism/hospitality and other