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Billionaire invests in the future of young people in the north of Scotland

Anders Holch Povlsen, who's Wildland company challenged plans for the development.

Young people in the north are being helped by Scotland’s richest man to get education and job opportunities as the lockdown eases.

Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen is investing £100,000 through his Wildland Limited company in programmes run by The Prince’s Trust and Young Enterprise Scotland.

The trust’s Achieve programme will receive £40,000 to expand its reach across the north east, Highlands and Islands in the academic year ahead.

Achieve, which has an emphasis on practical skills and experience of work, provides a vocational curriculum for pupils at risk of disengaging with their education at secondary level.

Support in remote, fragile communities

A further £30,000 is pledged to the trust’s Enterprise programme to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs in the area.

The scheme works with aspiring business founders, aged 18-30, providing two years’ training and mentorship alongside access to resources to launch their business.

Tim Kirkwood, chief executive of Wildland Limited, said: “We are particularly excited by the potential for aspiring entrepreneurs from remote, fragile communities in the Highlands and Islands to receive this support because a significant portion of delivery can be accessed remotely through online learning.”

The business is also providing £30,000 to help Young Enterprise Scotland deliver a Circular Community Challenge project in primary schools in the Highlands. The interactive challenge is designed to provide pupils with enterprise skills, from team working to communication, as well as the confidence in their own creativity.

A participant in a previous Prince’s Trust enterprise programme

The challenge will see young people supported to work together to design and develop their own ‘circular’ business, either a product or service, which also meets a need in their community.

Mr Kirkwood said: “With national and international attentions focussed squarely on the COP26 global climate change summit in Glasgow later this year, there has never been a better time to help young people learn about the principles and benefits of a circular economy, where everything has value and nothing is wasted.”

He added: “Through each of these collaborations Wildland hopes to develop partnerships that support community resilience, particularly among young people in rural areas who face unique barriers to reaching their full potential in education and employment.

“We are excited to see how they unfold in the months ahead and wish every young person involved in these programmes all the success in the world.”

Young people need support

Mr Kirkwood said as Covid as disrupted the education of young people they face significant barriers to finding employment: “Even as we look forward to reopening businesses and coming together again following lockdown we must not forget that many young people will need extra help if they are to feel part of Scotland’s recovery.”

Kate Still, director of The Prince’s Trust in Scotland, said: “Young people across Scotland need our support. The Covid-19 pandemic has left young people without confidence in their futures and the impact on their lives and future livelihoods means they are at real risk of being in a significantly worst financial position than the generation before them.

“At The Prince’s Trust we have supported over one million young people to transform their lives to date, and by working with partners such as Wildland we can ensure we are there to help many more.

“We are proud to be partnering with Wildland to help young people across the north east, Highlands and Islands. From our programmes in schools to support for young entrepreneurs, we’re working together to give young people the help they need to prepare for their future.”

Primary children taking part in a previous Young Enterprise Scotland beekeeping programme programme.

Geoff Leask, CEO of Young Enterprise Scotland, said the organisation is delighted to be working with Wildland to deliver the Circular Community Challenge.

“Learning enterprise skills of teamwork, good communication and perseverance through the practical experience of the challenge builds on the natural creativity and enthusiasm of primary school age pupils – essential qualities that they can develop as they go through their school careers.

“As climate change and the environment are such major issues for all of Scotland at the moment, I expect that we will see some amazing projects and look forward to hearing from local schools wanting to take up the challenge.”

Money for new lifeboat

Earlier this month, Wildland pledged £245,000 to buy and fit out a new rigid inflatable lifeboat, as well as a launch and recovery vehicle, for the volunteer-led charity East Sutherland Rescue Association to respond to inshore emergencies in the Dornoch Firth area.

Wildland Limited, which owns 221,000 acres, spanning three management areas in the Cairngorms, Sutherland and Lochaber, is wholly owned by Mr Povlsen who is Scotland’s largest landowner with business interests including the clothing empires Bestseller and Arcadia.