Young people give Shetland the thumbs up

A new survey indicates Shetland young people are more likely to want to live locally than those surveyed in other parts of the Highlands and Islands.

A new survey indicates Shetland young people are more likely to want to live locally than those surveyed in other parts of the Highlands and Islands.
The research of 122 young Shetland Islanders highlights that Shetland has the largest proportion of 15-30 year olds aspiring to stay in their local area – 57 per cent would like to be living locally at 35 years of age compared to 33 per cent regionally for the Highlands and Islands as a whole.
It emerged two thirds of those surveyed think other young people stay in Shetland because of their strong commitment to the local area, that they value the quality of life and are lucky to be able to do so. It found twice the regional proportion wish to stay locally after school too.
The research into the attitudes and aspirations of young people was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). It was carried out to identify the factors that lead to out-migration of young people and also covered a range of subjects from housing and digital connectivity to transport, future aspirations and the views young people have about their communities.
Young Shetland islanders are also less likely to think living in the Highlands and Islands region constrains ambition and a higher proportion also want to work locally – 44 per cent compared to 29 per cent regionally.
Young people in Shetland were also found to perceive further education more positively than the Highlands and Islands average and the educational offering was also considered to be well aligned to employment opportunities.
Other positives from the research indicated almost twice the proportion as regionally think employment opportunities are good and almost seven in ten young people in Shetland thought apprenticeship opportunities were good compared to five in ten in the rest of the region.
Housing was identified as the single most important issue in making the Highlands and Islands a more attractive place to live by young Shetland islanders and the cost of living was ranked second – far higher than the regional average of fifth.
Young people in Shetland are also very proud to be associated with their community and, along with Orkney, exhibit the highest figures regionally. They are also strongly engaged with their community and perceive Shetland more positively than most of those surveyed regionally including being a good place to live as a young person.
Rachel Hunter, HIE area manager, said: “Young Shetland Islanders clearly have a very positive view of where they live and the opportunities for successfully learning, building careers and working in the area. Shetland is perceived positively for its further education offering and young people consider prospects for remote learning in the more rural parts of Shetland as good.
“Employment and educational opportunities are likely to be enhanced further following the recent announcement that almost half of all Shetland premises now have access to high-speed fibre broadband. Good digital connectivity is a key element in preventing out-migration of young people.”
A full copy of the Young people in Shetland: Attitudes and aspirations report is available on the HIE website at

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