Over 150 representatives from key local and regional agencies have attended a conference to discuss the skills needed by rural dwellers to regenerate local communities in the East of England and East Midlands.

The Rural Forum Conference took place at East of England showground, Peterborough, and was jointly organised by the East of England Rural Forum and the East Midlands Rural Affairs.

Supported by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA), the symposium looked at resolving potential skills gaps and creating new employment opportunities within rural communities, helping to regenerate areas.

With their fast-evolving economic and social structure, many areas face a decline in traditional economic sectors such as farming and fishing, while new businesses that use new technology to serve remote markets, are emerging.

As a result, there is a need for those living in rural communities to adapt to a changing economic landscape to ensure areas thrive.

Delegates heard how skills programmes could be developed in rural areas, designed to support new industries and the transition of established businesses, migrant workers, sustainability and the environment, skills and retraining for older workers and young people.

Alan Bell, Rural Team Leader at the GO-East, the government office for the East of England, said: “The aim is to deliver a workforce with appropriate skills, which in turn will assist with rural generation… and to look at the future skills needs of the rural economy and to examine how innovative approaches to delivering these skills can contribute to regeneration success.”