As we enter 2018, Scotland becomes the first country in the world to dedicate a full year to celebrating young people.
At Highlands and Islands Enterprise we’re excited to be involved in Scotland’s Year of Young People. We will be showcasing what we offer as an agency, and calling on businesses and communities to embrace the fresh thinking and innovation young people bring.
While the region is home to many highly-skilled people we have long-recognised how important young people are to commercial competitiveness, sustainable economic growth and community resilience.
With this in mind we want to create more opportunities for young people to stay in the Highlands and Islands and have rewarding careers. We want to attract more young and economically-active people to live, work, study and invest here.
Our research, published in 2015, into the attitudes and aspirations of young people has been helping to focus our work. We’ve put a lot of effort into providing opportunities not only in our traditional sectors such as energy and food and drink, but also in our more recently established sectors such as life sciences and creative industries.
Our student and graduate placement programme, ScotGrad, has been highly successful in bringing businesses and young people together, combining experience and fresh ideas. Our Graduate Level Apprenticeships and Modern Apprenticeships are providing similar opportunities. And we’re working with universities in the region to create new further and higher education options that help retain and attract young people.
In addition to rewarding career paths, other key factors include mobility and connectivity. The Next Generation Broadband roll-out is now reaching more than 85% of our region, and this is transforming people’s lives. Transportation links have also greatly improved in recent decades, including improved air, rail and ferry services.
For the Year of Young People, we are looking at new ways we can contribute meaningfully to the development of young people in the region. One example is exploring ways to encourage and empower more young people to become more actively involved in community organisations, such as local trusts and community or social enterprises.
The year is a great opportunity to demonstrate the pride the region has in its young people and how important they are to its future. I can’t wait to see what young people achieve throughout 2018 and I look forward to leading HIE’s involvement in what promises to be an exciting year of activity.