Young people want to stay in the Highlands

Ian Smith, centre left, who left Tiree to study seven years ago, but now plans to return to the island. He has set up a company producing gin that will help to employ himself and others.
Ian Smith, centre left, who left Tiree to study seven years ago, but now plans to return to the island. He has set up a company producing gin that will help to employ himself and others.

Almost half of young people living in the Highlands and Islands want to stay here, according to a report published today.

The Attitudes and Aspirations study says that 46% of young people want to live and work in the region – up by 10% from the last study – three years ago.

The study, undertaken by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) took the views of than 3,000 15-30 year-olds who were asked what they think about the region.

It follows a previous study commissioned by the agency in 2015. The findings show that increasing numbers of young people want to live and work in the Highlands and Islands; with the proportion of committed stayers up to 46%, from 36%.

Almost all areas of the region show an increase in the proportion of young people committed to staying, while fewer school leavers are committed to leaving; down to 42% from 56%.


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More than half of respondents said they anticipate living in the Highlands and Islands in ten years’ time.  This was particularly the case among those living in Shetland, the Outer Hebrides and Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross.

One young person, Ian Smith, 25, said while he left Tiree to study he is now in the process of making a life for himself back home.

He explained: “I had a great upbringing in Tiree and although I’ve been based in Glasgow for the last seven years, I’m now spending much more time on the island.

“Although people from the cities often think there’s not much to do on the islands for me it’s the opposite. There’s a great way of life and I really enjoy the culture and the way of island life.

“We have been establishing our own gin distillery, and we hope to provide ourselves with employment, and with that an opportunity to move home pretty much full-time.”

Praising initiatives in employment, education and training for retaining young people, Carroll Buxton, HIE’s director of regional development, said: “Young people are vital to the future prosperity of the Highlands and Islands.

“Creating conditions that make the region attractive to them has always been challenging, and one of our key priorities. It is therefore very heartening to hear that increasing numbers of young people appear to be feeling more positive about the region as a place to live, study and pursue rewarding careers.”

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