Rural areas are subject to the same broad economic forces that are radically reshaping sectors, industries, and occupations for the nation as a whole. This reshaping includes the very structure of employment and the untethering of employment from specifi c locations as well as labor market volatility and changing hiring practices.
However, some of the characteristics of rural places and economiesamplify these forces, specifically, geography, demography, andlimitations on business competitiveness and career progression. Inaddition, significant differentiation exists among rural labor markets, largely determined by the strength of their natural and cultural assets and their proximity to metropolitan centers, and these diff erences are dynamic.
The goal of rural workforce development is to stay apace withthese changes so that all workers have the opportunity and resources to improve their economic circumstances through education and skill development. That can happen when there is intentional inclusion of distance, competency-based, and lifelong learning. To get there, rural communities and their workers must embrace connectivity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, with a focus on assets, collaboration, and regionalism.