Rural recruitment is the basis of the latest venture from well-known Northumberland property man Hugh Fell, who has masterminded an online rural jobs hub.
Work Rural is a website designed to connect skilled people to jobs in the rural economy - including all manner of roles from accountancy to wild cattle wardens.
Mr Fell developed the idea after struggles to recruit into the property business he leads, George F White, which has offices across Northumberland and County Durham.
The website has now launched as an entirely separate business.
Mr Fell said: “As an employer, all I want to do is find excellent people that want to find a great job. The concept is simple but there is a gap at the moment in the rural sector.
“The sector is vast and comprises a number of interlinking industries - making recruitment a minefield.
“The main aim of Work Rural is to provide a simple-to-use, cost effective way for employers and employees to find each other. For employers, the website will provide informed, detailed advice and support to businesses seeking the right candidates.
“For job seekers, it will help to match their skills to the right job enabling people to make informed decisions about what roles to apply for.
Site manager Rachel Fisher said: “Our in-depth research has shown that the existing options out there are often too expensive to use regularly or, at the other end of the scale, low cost and not properly developed to meet the required need.
“Work Rural provides the missing link between employers and employees that just isn’t there at the moment - a vacuum that creates serious issues for the rural economy.”
One of the first jobs to be advertised on Work Rural is that of Warden at Chillingham Wild Cattle Association.
The role, which is split part-time and full-time between seasons involves conducting tours for visitors of Chillingham Park, providing information on the unique herd of Wild White Cattle.
It is just one example of the type of jobs which will be made available through the Work Rural platform.
Ms Fisher explained: “There are a lot of different jobs which are required to make the rural economy work - not just the traditional farming and agricultural roles.
“We realised there was a need to provide employers with a route to finding the right skills for their businesses. That might be an accountant in a small market town to a computer programmer in a converted barn house.”
Ms Fisher, who has a background in surveying and renewables project management, said she was compelled to join the project as she wanted to help friends find work in her area.
She added: “We found that many recruitment solutions already out there were very niche. Many existing recruiters or platforms specialise in perhaps one or two specific sectors. There wasn’t anything that catered for the whole rural economy.
“We thought it would be a good idea to use our expertise and knowledge of the rural sector to do something really useful in this underdeveloped area.”
Work Rural has used used existing contacts to launch the initial tranche of jobs on the site before it is hoped word-of-mouth referrals will grow the customer base.
Job listings on the website are free during a launch period, after which Work Rural will build revenue through charging employers £95 per listing.
Ms Fisher added: “We’re just about to start some marketing activity to promote the site and build up the number of employers we’re working with.
“We’re also aiming to turn Work Rural into a focal point for job seekers and employers. We’ll provide advice and research on the rural economy and what it means for the labour market.”