Young people more committed to staying in Lochaber
More young people see themselves living and working in Lochaber in the future, a new report published this week shows.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) carried out a survey into the attitudes and aspirations of 3,130 young people aged 15 to 30 in the region, who shared their views on the Highlands and Islands as a place to live, work and study.
The final report shows increasing numbers of young people want to live and work in the Highlands and Islands, with the proportion of committed stayers up from 36 per cent to 46 per cent.
More than half of respondents said they anticipate living in the Highlands and Islands in 10 years, which was particularly the case with those living in Lochaber.
The findings also show fewer school leavers are committed to leaving the Highlands, while almost 70 per cent agreed people who stay are lucky to be able to work or study locally and most believe leavers will return to the region when the time is right.
West Highland College UHI in Fort William has welcomed the report and believes the development of the college has ‘increased the positive perception’ of opportunities and boosted the confidence of young people in the area.
Lydia Rohmer, principal and chief executive of the Fort William college, was upbeat about the report’s findings but said ‘much remains still to do’.
She said the planned Centre for Science, Technology Health and Engineering, due to be built at Blar Mhor by September 2020, will make ‘a big difference’ in adding to the range of qualifications and opportunities available locally to young people.
Ms Rhomer added: ‘In addition to all of this, our unique, specialist portfolio of courses up to degree level in our School of Adventure Studies continues to not only provide outstanding opportunities for local young people to develop skills for future employment and entrepreneurship, but it also attracts numbers of young people from outside the Highlands who want to live study, live and work here, contributing to the economic growth of the area in the future.’
Outward migration of young people is a particular concern for Lochaber and the wider Highlands, with many moving away to pursue education and employment opportunities, and there is currently a deficit of young people in the region compared to other areas of Scotland.
Carroll Buxton, HIE’s director of regional development, said it is ‘very heartening’ to know that more young people feel more positive about the Highlands as a place to live, study and pursue careers.