Rural Weeks

At HighGround our Mission is to support the Armed Forces community with therapeutic and employment opportunities – Outdoors.

Military skills and experience map perfectly into the sector and we have developed Rural Weeks to introduce people to the huge variety of opportunities in the sector from working as an arborist in disaster zones, being a beatkeeper on a river, running a cider orchard to being a park ranger, flying UAV’s in precision agriculture or conserving vultures in Africa – the choice is yours!

Rural Weeks are run for 10 people at a time. They are delivered at an agricultural college, which starts on a Sunday and finishes on a Friday. Currently we deliver 8 courses at Bicton College in Devon per year.

We aim to introduce you to the land-based sector which can be divided as follows:

Land Management

Land Management covers all aspects of work on the land from management and administrative roles to practical, ‘hands-on’ activities which may use trades already held.

  • Farming
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Countryside and Environment
  • Arboriculture
  • Forestry and Forest Schools
  • Horticulture
  • Heritage Railway
  • Game Keeping and River Management
  • Smallholdings

‘Farming as an outdoor, practical, small-scale business relies on versatile, resourceful and skilled staff, albeit often without formal qualifications, who can solve problems and manage responsibility. One of the main concerns voiced by farm employers is that they have found it difficult to recruit such staff in recent years.’ These are the comments from a recent government survey (DeFra Farm Business Survey, May 2013) regarding new entrants to the farming sector.

Military training and service involves being able to solve problems and manage responsibility no matter what rank you were, there is an obvious link here between what is needed by the farming sector and what ex-military can provide. There are approximately 300,00 active farms currently in the UK generating roughly £8 billion into the UK economy. An average farm size is 57 Ha (1 hectare = 10000 square metres) and the UK’s average age for farmers is 58. This factor, average age, is mentioned in the DeFra survey in that many farmers are successful throughout their working careers with valuable experience and deep knowledge to pass on there is a ‘decreasing willingness to continue to undertake training which might support productivity and innovation.’

Environmental (outdoor) Design, Production and Leisure

Covers careers available in areas where there is an end product or a service to people, there are opportunities for practical work or skilled craftsmanship. Many of the roles will offer the opportunity for direct contact with the customer and the general public.

  •  Floristry
  • Horticulture
  • Landscape Design
  • Leisure Pursuits – eg: canoeing, mountaineering
  • Viticulture/Cider making
  • Green Space Management
  • Sports Turf Management
  • Aquaculture

Animal Care

Covers the care of all types of animal, there welfare and in many cases training.

  • Equine – The Horse industry
  • Animal conservation
  • Farriery
  • Veterinary activities
  • Domestic and Companion Animals
  • Zoos and Wild Life Parks

What happens during a Rural Week?

College staff and outside presenters, all subject matter experts, will guide you through an introduction to their area of expertise with information about what careers in each sector are best suited to ex-military people and the training and qualifications needed.

Thursday covers CV writing, interview techniques and resilience in the workplace. Friday is about working for yourself and reviewing the week so that you can make a plan for how to move forwards.

During the Rural Week, we invite ex-military people who are now working in the land-based sector to come and talk to us in the evenings and share their experiences of transition and their contacts – it’s not what you know, but who!

You can view the timetable on the link below.

What happens after Rural Week?

Our Careers Manager will follow up to agree a plan to help you move towards land-based employment or self-employment. This could be:

  • HighGround arranging a work placement for you.
  • Advising about specific courses and how to access funding for them.
  • Putting you in touch with a partner organisation if the Rural Week has identified another issue which may be preventing you from getting nearer to employment, such as housing.

Can’t make it to a Rural Week?

If you’re interested in learning about the Land-based sector but cannot make it to one of our Rural Weeks, take a look at our Career Guides to find out about the many opportunities that the Land-based sector holds for ex-military personnel and Reservists.

Get in touch

If you have any questions or need further information or would like to apply for a place on a Rural Week please contact us by email or call Anna on 07951 495 272.


“HighGround regards the concept Rural Weeks as intellectual property of the charity and will take any steps available to it to enforce its rights in such property if any other person or organisation seeks to copy it or to benefit from the goodwill associated with it.”

To read the latest Rural Weeks Report (RXW), click below:

Rural Week 18 - Click here to read

To read previous Rural Week Reports, click here