Community-led skills initiative in National Park aims to retain rural workforce

This five-day programme of skills workshops covered all aspects of estate management, from fencing and environmental conservation to woodland planting, sheep farming, drystone dyking and agricultural engineering.

The event was designed specifically to get a small group of young, unemployed people from the region interested in rural skills and to demonstrate the variety of career options available to them. Although this is a first for Luss Estates, the LLTNP Community Partnership hope that this unique employer-led partnership approach to promoting skills opportunities could act as a template for other areas and sectors, once an evaluation of the model is undertaken.

Iain Wilkinson, Rural Business Manager at Luss Estates Company, said: "Informing young people about rural career opportunities is an essential step towards ensuring employers have access to young and enthusiastic individuals, both to preserve rural skills and ensure there are adequate resources to preserve and build our natural heritage.

"The Rural Skills Week at Luss Estates has given the participants a unique taster of the variety of roles within estate management. It was clear there was limited understanding of the job opportunities at first, but we hope that following the event, everyone involved has gained a better understanding of potential rural employment paths and the steps required to succeed."

Ronnie Campbell, one of the young trainees, commented: "This week has been a real eye opener for us all - and very inspiring. I never realised there were so many different types of jobs on an estate like this. Most young people I know just think they have to move away to get the kind of training and experience they need to get a job, but this week has shown that there are great opportunities right here."