An island college is launching a three-year strategy to help revitalise the Gaelic language, culture and heritage.
Lews Castle College UHI (LCC UHI) in Stornoway plans to embed Gaelic into new courses to develop language skills and learning.
It will also work with community groups and public bodies to use the language as an economic driver and promote the heritage of the Outer Hebrides to visitors and people coming to live in the islands.
The strategy will be launched at a virtual event on February 24 which will also see the start of a series of talks by Gaelic speakers from island communities.
The college, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said the Western Isles has the highest concentration of Gaelic speakers in Scotland, with 61% of people aged three and over having at least some Gaelic language skills.
However recent research has shown there is a critical need to regenerate Gaelic in communities. Last year, a damning book claimed it could collapse as a community language within a decade in its main stronghold.
‘The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community’ was published by researchers from the university’s Language Sciences Institute and Soillse, a multi-institutional research collaboration.
Since then, MSPs and Soillse have consulted island communities and a report was sent to Gaelic minister John Swinney.
LCC UHI’s strategy said investment in Gaelic offers significant opportunities for future economic growth.
Key objectives from September include developing language skills to encourage entrepreneurship. It is also planned to embed Gaelic in a range of subjects, such as creative and digital media, hair and beauty and health and social care.
Training programmes will be offered to tourism businesses and the college will work with bodies including the Stornoway Port Authority and Hebridean Celtic Festival to raise awareness of the Gaelic language and culture among visitors.
In future, people coming to live in the islands will also be sent welcome packs with information about the area’s heritage and how to learn Gaelic.
The college’s head of Gaelic Angela Weir said: “The recent research highlighted issues facing Gaelic which brought things into sharp focus.
“We felt we needed to increase our engagement with stakeholders as well as increase partnership working and our focus on community engagement.
“Underpinning the strategy is collaboration which is the only way to ensure progress.”