The research will critically explore the impact of the two most dramatic societal changes witnessed in the UK in the past years – namely, Brexit and still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – on the skills gap in rural areas. The main goal will be to explore the current skills gap, identify and explain factors mitigating and exacerbating the gap in the current context, and explore actual and potential strategies to address the gap. The first step is important because it remains unclear what skills are lacking – e.g., hard or soft skills and what specific types of them. Some of the effects may include difficulties with recruiting foreign workers, problems with attracting workers to remote areas, income inequality between urban and rural areas, and benefits offered by remote working and technologies. The focus on strategies will produce results with practical implications for businesses and policymakers alike. There will be a possibility to focus on specific industries or businesses, such as farming or tourism.
The project will be multi-disciplinary, using a wide range of literature – for example (the list is not exhaustive), studies in management, sociology and human geography. The potential candidate could come from any scholarly background but should be familiar with at least some of these areas of research and be able to familiarise themselves with a vast body of literature fairly quickly. It is expected that the project will draw upon qualitative data, most likely interviews, although there is a certain degree of flexibility around the choice of methods. Experience of conductive qualitative research would be an advantage. The successful candidate will be expected to make a substantial contribution into developing this project further.
Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Dr Andrew Kozhevnikov informally to discuss the research objectives and methodology.