A new survey into the attitudes and aspirations of young people in Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross indicates strong levels of pride in their local community.
The survey of 421 of the area’s 15-30 year olds highlights several positive reasons why young people choose to stay in the area. This includes 83 per cent who are proud to be associated with their community which is higher than the 78 per cent found regionally across the Highlands and Islands.
Two thirds of those taking part said their town or community is a place they want to live and young people in Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross feel safe and think it is a good place to bring up a family. Whilst the importance of housing availability and affordability was also highlighted, 36 per cent agreed that community land ownership makes building your own home a more realistic option – above the 28 per cent regional average.
Young people are also more engaged and involved in their community than many other parts of the Highlands and Islands with over half of those surveyed attending community events and one in three actively volunteering. Only a quarter of those responding said they do not take part in such community activities – lower than the regional average of 29 per cent.
The research was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) amid concerns of young people leaving the region. Their views and perceptions have been gathered on a range of subjects from employment opportunities, housing and transport to digital and mobile connectivity, community life and leisure and cultural activities. The gathered data will help develop effective policies to counter out-migration of young people.
Other positive features in the report indicate outdoor attractions and pursuits as well as Gaelic events and culture as being perceived as more available than the regional average. Awareness of UHI is also higher than the Highlands and Islands average and highest in Skye and Lochalsh and Lochaber.
Whilst sustainable tourism and food and drink are the best known employment sectors, the research found the creative industries which encompass design, crafts, television, performing arts and radio of most interest to young people.
Robert Muir, HIE area manager for the region, said: “Young people in Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross are clearly positive about several aspects of their lives in the area and a strong sense of community shines out in this report.
“Since the survey took place, many towns and villages in Lochaber like Kinclochleven and Ballachulish now have superfast broadband access. Community broadband solutions are also being developed with south Skye communities. Good digital connectivity is essential for so many young people and this investment through the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband project provides a major incentive for them to stay and attract others into the area too.
“As more businesses benefit form superfast broadband access, employment opportunities and career progression for young people should also improve. Remote learning also has the potential to reach more people.”
The Young people in Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross: Attitudes and aspirations report is available from the HIE website at http://bit.ly/1PeA8fj