Helping military veterans build sustainable career paths within the rural sector, Rurallink liaises with large companies to create networking and job opportunities.
After serving for nearly 24 years, Ruralink’s director Fiona Galbraith found it difficult to get into farming, despite growing up on a vineyard in Kent.
She says: “I soon learned other veterans had similar experiences, with relatively few making the transition into agriculture despite the close alignment of skillsets.
“There is often difficulty finding career related information about agriculture, especially as farms are often small independent business and the industry has few representative bodies.
“I set about trying to solve this barrier through Ruralink through creating networking opportunities for service personnel interested in environmental conservation.”
Its first event, Operation Kingfisher, took place on December 10, 2020, at the Ministry of Defence Salisbury Plains and saw service personnel in their resettlement period take part in a tree planting project alongside experts as part of a wider environmental plan for the area.
“The attendees spent the day working with the Wildlife Trust and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation,” says Ms Galbraith.
“This helped foster informal conversations about careers opportunities such as what skills they may need to work in the sector as well as gain useful contacts through networking.”
While the primary focus of the operation is on land and estate management skills, it could broaden out to include farming disciplines in the future.
Three events, Covid-19 dependent, are in the pipeline for 2021, and it is hoped the operation will be rolled out nationally, with contacts in Scotland, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
“Operations like Kingfisher help reduce the risk veterans may present to potential employees as it builds their knowledge and experience,” Ms Galbraith says.
“Ruralink also offers individual coaching to help service personnel sharpen up their employability skills as some will not have written or CV or had an interview, which can be a daunting process.”