News and media


Young people asked for views on Highlands and Islands

18 February 2015

A new online survey has been launched to explore the changing aspirations of young people and their attitudes to the Highlands and Islands.

The researchers aim to find out what people aged 15-30 think about education, jobs, quality of life and cost of living in the region.

Five pairs of three-day tickets to the sold-out Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival in August are available to be won by those taking part in the survey.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has commissioned consultants ekosgen to undertake the research, which will show whether the attitudes and aspirations of the region’s young people have changed since a previous study six years ago.

In 2009, the agency undertook a study to explore the migration choices of over 3,000 15-30 year olds with links to the Highlands and Islands. This showed that around 1,500 more young people within this age range leave the region each year than choose to move in.

The previous study also showed that the aspirations of young people in the Highlands and Islands did not differ significantly from those living elsewhere in Scotland, and that migration choices were largely determined by education, training and employment opportunities.

Since this last study, a wide range of initiatives and projects have been established to give young people more opportunities to stay in the area if they wish and to attract others to come for the first time.

These include the award-winning ScotGrad graduate placement scheme, the University of the Highlands and Islands being awarded university title, and the current £146m rollout of next generation broadband infrastructure led by HIE and BT throughout the region.

The findings of the ‘Young People and the Highlands and Islands’ research will reveal how these actions are helping to stem the out-migration of young people, and be used by HIE and others to inform further policy development.

The Wood Commission, set up in 2014 to address improve young people’s transition into sustainable employment, recognised that Scotland needs to be internationally competitive to achieve economic success and that young people have a key role in this.

Carroll Buxton, Director of Regional Development at HIE, said: “Young people are a vital part of a thriving Highlands and Islands, and our previous study underlined that specific action needs to be taken to both retain and attract them to the region.

“Based on anecdotal evidence, initiatives such as ScotGrad appear to have made a difference. We now need to assess how aware our young people are of the available opportunities and of what else we and our partners need to address.

“The increasing prevalence of globalisation and increase in digital connectivity across the region may be changing the attitudes of young people to our region and it is extremely important we take this into account.

She said: "This online survey aims to get to the heart of what our latest generation of young people really think and feel about life in the Highlands and Islands.”

According to research undertaken by HIE last year, there were 75,256 people aged 15-29 years old living in the Highlands and Islands in 2011. This equates to 16% of the total 466,122 Highlands and Islands population, which is less than the Scotland average proportion of 20%. If the Highlands and Islands had the same proportion of young people as Scotland, it would have 16,100 more residents in the 15-29 age range.

Between 2001 and 2011, the number of 15-29 years old living in the Highlands and Islands increased by almost 10%, which was above the total population percentage increases of 8% and the same as the rate of increase across Scotland.

The survey is open now and closes at the beginning of April 2015. The research should be complete by summer 2015.

More information and the link to the survey can be found at

Five lucky contributors will each win a pair of three-day passes to the sold-out Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, which this year stars Kaiser Chiefs and the Proclaimers.


Leave a comment

Elizabeth Reid 18/02/2015

I like the highlands. I've been looking for a job for ages, but most places are looking for 16 year olds and I'm still 15. There should be a bit more to do though in the town I live in, for example we only have sports centres and most people my age just hang out on the streets. If we were to have like a cinema or some thing it would bring the town together as we have to travel around 20 mins to the closest cinema or shopping centres. The most exciting thing in my area is Belladrum and this only happens once a year. Belladrum is so much fun to go to. I enjoy going that much I have been 10 times in a row. Although if I was to win a ticket is give it to my friend who has never been before and she appreciate this ticket as she has been wanting to go a few years now.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 19/02/2015

Thanks for your comments, Elizabeth, and for taking part in our survey. Prize draw winners will each receive TWO tickets for Bella - good luck!

Meryl MacLean 19/02/2015

I love the highlands. I chose Inverness college over the central belt 10 years ago and I've been here ever since. As well as incredibly friendly, helpful people, Inverness has everything you need, minus a few luxuries in the town. It's steeped in history and has some wicked scenery within a few minutes drive from the town. With the new college under way and lots of work going on in the town, I hope more people choose stay and work in the highlands. I think it is becoming a more popular place to be and I have no plans to leave. The only thing I struggle with is living costs, the cost of renting and council tax in Inverness is extremely expensive, particularly for single people.

Jordan Murray 19/02/2015

I live in Alness which as most people see as a partly peaceful place but how the youngsters see it as the most boring place in the north but I think we have some good opertunitues with our local youth club I'm 15 years old and have been helped throughout my high school career by the youth club they helped me find a part time job to give myself some independence with money and give me responsibilities to obtain. I think more towns should have a warm and humble place to go to talk to some very nice and friendly youth workers about problems or just casual conversation I'm not in it for the tickets for my self but for my friends who didn't get a ticket in time but most importantly get my point across about how everywhere should have a local youth club thanks

Rebecca Davidson 19/02/2015

I love the highlands it's got some great views and places, there should be more to do in Inverness in particular, I love how there are clubs for the youth as I'm only 17... Not long to go aha, my favourite place in the Highlands has to be culloden battlefield as it is historical and educational it's also round the corner from where I stay

Matthew Clark 24/02/2015

I love the highlands. I am 16 years old and fully believe that the highlands offers choices much superior to the rest of the country. I live in Culloden and feel there are many activities I can do whether it's involved with the school or whether it involves the high life scheme after school. I am looking to go into the golf industry of work and I believe that the Highlands offers me the best opportunities to fulfil this when the UHI opens and even right now. With world class courses such as Castle Stuart and Nairn West, it has opened doors to me as I am able to caddy at Castle Stuart and have a safe job which I would struggle to get anywhere else in the country at 16, and I am extremely grateful for this. Belladrum is a key part of the highlands as it attracts many people from all All over the nation to come and enjoy the highlands for music, scenery, food and drink and much more!! If I were to win these tickets then that would be amazing. It would let me join my friends ,who currently have tickets, and join them at the festival which I have only had the pleasure of attending once (4 years ago). It would be a great time for me as I would be able to enjoy the festival that is greatly becoming a top Highland attraction. Thanks

Highlands and Islands Enterprise 25/02/2015

Thanks to all for your comments so far and for taking part in our survey. Keep sharing it, you or one of your friends could be the lucky winner of those Bella tickets!

Back to top