Fo­rum praises work to at­tract more peo­ple to Argyll and Bute

Argyllshire Advertiser - - RECRUITMENT -

Progress be­ing made to at­tract more peo­ple to live and work in Argyll and Bute has been de­scribed as ‘very en­cour­ag­ing’ in a re­port to coun­cil­lors.

At its next meet­ing on Thurs­day June 7 the coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­ment, de­vel­op­ment and in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­tee will be pre­sented with a re­port from the Argyll and Bute Eco­nomic Fo­rum.

The fo­rum’s chair­man is Ni­cholas Fer­gu­son CBE, for­mer chair­man of Sky plc and now chair­man of Sav­ills plc.

Set up in 2015 to tackle pop­u­la­tion de­cline in the area, the Argyll and Bute Eco­nomic Fo­rum looks at the is­sue from a busi­ness per­spec­tive.

It iden­ti­fied jobs as be­ing the key to en­cour­ag­ing more peo­ple in the work­ing age group 20-44 years to stay in Argyll and Bute or move to the area.

Three key ar­eas for job growth were out­lined as: tourism; food and drink pro­duc­tion, par­tic­u­larly aquaculture; and higher ed­u­ca­tion.

In the re­port, Mr Fer­gu­son said: ‘We are pleased to re­port that the de­vel­op­ments in all three of these have been very pos­i­tive. Vis­i­tor num­bers for Argyll and Bute have shown an in­crease of 22 per cent over the last two years, with growth of 38 per cent at our key tourist at­trac­tions. Numer­ous private sec­tor tourist-re­lated com­pa­nies and ini­tia­tives have seen in­vest­ment, new em­ploy­ment, growth, and prof­itabil­ity.

‘Aquaculture em­ploy­ment and prof­its both in­creased by 10 per cent de­spite pro­duc­tion is­sues. Other food and drink pro­duc­tion has grown.

‘Higher ed­u­ca­tion has seen im­pres­sive growth. The prin­ci­pal higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions in Argyll are UHI Argyll Col­lege, SAMS and Bal­let West. To­tal stu­dent num­bers have in­creased over the last two years by 28 per cent.

‘So there is no ques­tion that Argyll is now on the move. This is clearly very en­cour­ag­ing,’ the re­port con­tin­ued.

Oban be­com­ing a ‘univer­sity town’ and im­proved 4G mo­bile ac­cess and broad­band cov­er­age in Argyll are also iden­ti­fied as pos­i­tive steps, with the roads net­work high­lighted as an­other op­por­tu­nity for mak­ing the area more ac­ces­si­ble and friendly to tourism and busi­ness.

Mar­ket­ing and pro­mo­tion of the area in terms of tourism and in­dus­try is seen as a ma­jor step in con­tin­u­ing growth, as is an en­hanced ap­proach to meet­ing vis­i­tors’ needs via a range of new and ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture ex­pe­ri­ences that take ad­van­tage of Argyll’s nat­u­ral beauty.

Coun­cil leader Coun­cil­lor Aileen Mor­ton said: ‘It is with ev­ery­one who cares about Argyll and Bute work­ing to­gether that we will build a se­cure fu­ture for the area. The fo­rum has brought the pub­lic and private sec­tors to­gether and I look for­ward to con­sid­er­ing this re­port at com­mit­tee.’

The full re­port can be viewed on­line at https://bit. ly/2J3lAD.

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