Research Output

Towards an employability policy agenda for remote rural labour markets

  This paper presents an analysis of the barriers to work faced by unemployed people in remote rural labour markets, and compares the experiences of the ‘long-term unemployed’ and more recent job seekers in two such areas in Northern Scotland (namely the Wick and Sutherland travel-to-work areas). The paper reports the findings of interviews with 190 job seekers (more than one-fifth of the registered unemployed) in these areas, both of which face labour demand problems related to the restructuring of traditional industries and the decline of agriculture and aquaculture. The paper aims to identify the specific problems faced by job seekers (and particularly the long-term unemployed) living in the most isolated rural communities, for whom commuting to major centres of employment is not a viable alternative to finding work locally; and to discuss potential policy actions addressing the needs of these individuals. Our analysis notes that many job seekers have gaps in generic and job-specific skills, whilst some (particularly males) appear reluctant to pursue opportunities in non-traditional sectors of the economy. We also highlight the importance of informal job search and recruitment networks (which can tend to exclude the young, the long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged groups), and the danger of increased social exclusion created by a lack of formal service provision ‘on the ground’ in remote areas. Finally, priorities for policy action in these and other rural labour markets are discussed. It is suggested that holistic and client-centred solutions are required to address the barriers faced by rural job seekers. Specific policy areas where further action may be required include flexible training focussing on skills with particular relevance to the new rural economy and, crucially, community-based support services for job seekers in isolated areas.

  • Date:

    26 July 2001

  • Publication Status:



Lindsay, C., McCracken, M. G., & McQuaid, R. W. (2001). Towards an employability policy agenda for remote rural labour markets



Employability; Remote; Rural; Labour market; Economy; Social policy; Long-term unemployed; Job seekers; Wick; Sutherland; Northern Scotland; Job skills; Recruitment networks; Social exclusion; Support services;

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