Young peo­ple more com­mit­ted to stay­ing in Lochaber

The Oban Times - - NEWS - By Neill Bo Fin­layson nfin­[email protected]­times.co.uk

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.

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