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Rural Careers Experience Day

5 July 2022

Rural Careers Experience Day

Name of Event: Kingussie High School & Grantown Grammar School - Rural Careers Experience Day

Event Sector: Rural (Land, animals, and environment)

Event Background / Objectives:

DYW worked with Countryside Learning Scotland to deliver a careers fair for Kingussie High School and Grantown Grammar School, with a focus on highlighting the breadth of careers in the rural sector, in the local area.

Countryside Learning Scotland is delivering the ‘Pathways to Rural Work’ initiative as a Green Recovery Fund project in the Cairngorms. P2RW is a progressive outreach programme which aims to inspire students about the breadth of rural careers, highlighting how they relate to key subjects and support those interested in jobs in the countryside to transition from education to the workplace. It made sense for us to pool our resources and work on the event together.

Following the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic which led to many missed opportunities for young people over the last 2 years, our vision was to create a vibrant, interactive day where students could get hands-on with local rural businesses and gain a more tangible sense of their day-to-day work.

We wanted young people to be able to have interactive experiences with local employers from across the rural sector, to raise their awareness of the variety of careers that exist in the sector in the local area, and maybe even inspire them to consider one of these roles in the future.

The objectives of the event:

  • To inspire students about the breadth and diversity of different rural careers and industries.
  • Using local businesses as real-life case studies for these careers, and provide students with an understanding of their local employment opportunities
  • Give an opportunity for hands-on experience of rural employment skills
  • To encourage careers conversations with rural workers first-hand
  • Help students to make informed choices about their future

We tried to handpick businesses from across the rural sector to represent the different areas of work and careers. Each business present hosted a stand (in some cases 2 or 3 stands) and were invited to offer an appropriately risk-assessed practical demonstration, equipment/machinery display or interactive workshop to give pupils students a true taster of their day-to-day work in the industry. We encouraged the invited businesses to be as creative and engaging as possible with their space and invited them to discuss any ideas they had with us.

Local businesses were well represented with stands from:

  • Hydrasun
  • RSPB / Cairngorms Connect
  • UHI – School of Forestry
  • UHI – Northern College
  • Strathdearn and Speyside Moorland Group
  • Forestry & Land Scotland
  • AW Laing
  • Cairngorms National Park Authority Ranger Service
  • Craggan Outdoors

Event Format

The event was held at The Boat of Garten Community Hall, which is roughly equidistant from both schools. Transport was provided to enable pupils to attend.

The venue was a fantastic space with a hall and various other rooms inside, including a kitchen. Outside we had use of the car park and the football pitch adjacent to the hall, as well as the pergola and the woods to the rear.

Businesses delivered interactive, practical demonstrations, workshops, and visual displays simultaneously across the venue’s indoor and outdoor spaces with the aim of giving pupils the opportunity to experience the day-to-day skills used by each rural worker.

The day was split into two 2hr15min sessions – morning and afternoon. Kingussie High School’s current S3 pupils (soon to be S4) attended in the morning from 10am and Grantown Grammar School’s new S3s (just moved up from S2) attended from 1pm. Pupils were split into 2 groups on arrival, with one group starting indoors and the other outdoors (swapping halfway through).

Outdoor stands were very interactive, so to ensure pupils got to try everything, we split them into smaller groups outside and they were asked to circulate every 10 minutes, while those insides were free to circulate around each business stand at their leisure.

Indoor stands included:

Forestry and Land Scotland - harvester simulator

Strathdearn & Strathspey Moorland Group – BBQ & game tasting

Strathdearn & Strathspey Moorland Group – trap demos and examples of antlers

SSPCA – case studies of real-life investigations, animal rescue equipment, robotics, and coding (to demonstrate how an animal may behave in certain scenarios), video and interactive quizzes.

Hydrasun – brought along some of their products and had a simple game with 3D printed prizes

UHI School of Forestry

UHI North Highland College

Outdoor stands included:

Craggan Outdoors – Laser tag (and highlighted the instructor pathway

Cairngorm National Park Authority Ranger Service – tent and a giant jigsaw map of the area

AW Laing Builders – Coordination: logs and 4-inch nails to hammer (how many hits to get the nail in).

Demolition – Jenga; Construction – a screw gun, plasterboard, and timber to screw together

Forestry and Land Scotland – Mechanics van; quad bike and chainsaw dismantling

Strathdearn & strathspey Moorland Group – Argo cat with pressure washer (knock down the cones) and leaf blower football.

A lunch of soup and sandwich was provided to the stall holders by DYW Inverness and Central Highland via the caterer, John Mackie, who also does the catering at the Boat of Garten Golf Club.

The DYW programme Manager, Eilidh Edgar attended and supported the event in the morning, and school co-ordinators Tamara and Dawn were both there all day to provide assistance where needed.

Direct Impacts

The event was aimed at current S3 pupils who were just about to start in the senior phase at their school. We had expected around 80 pupils from Kingussie and possibly 60 from Grantown. Actual numbers were 65 from Kingussie (with Gavin Murphy, DHT, Wendy Adamson, Guidance and DYW Lead, and Callum Carson, Head of PE) and 37 from Grantown with Ruairidh Ross, DHT, one of the PSAs and Kyle Noble, Art). Grantown chose to send their current S2s and despite months of planning, the event clashed with the Junior rangers, hence the depleted numbers from Grantown.

Alan Gristwood who is on the Boat of Garten Community Hall committee is also on the committee of the golf club and shared that golf club/course is currently recruiting for an apprenticeship greenkeeper.

Benefits .

Young people got to try out the practical side of some of the rural careers in the area, make connections with local employers and provide feedback on the event.

So far 58 young people have completed the feedback form. Here are some headlines:

46/58 pupils felt that they had learned something new about future careers opportunities at the event.

Prior to the event 41 of the 58 hadn’t considered a job in the countryside, and 25 of those are now definitely or likely to consider a career in the countryside.

New links were made with the businesses and organisations who attended, as well as with some who did not attend or cancelled.