Alistair Dodds 2 Creidt Gillian Frampton Web

Potential for more Moray young people to enter traditional industries

Published: 30/06/2022

Encouraging more young people into traditional industries in Moray could help address the challenges resulting from fewer workers being available from overseas.

Stuart Black, HIE chief executive (credit Gillian Frampton). Main pic - Alistair Dodds by John Paul

Encouraging more young people into traditional industries in Moray could help address the challenges resulting from fewer workers being available from overseas.

This is one of the topics raised when a cross section of businesses, community groups and social enterprises met with the HIE board this week in Forres.

The purpose of the session was to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the area and to hear how HIE could best support organisations to address these.

Challenges around housing and labour market were emphasised, along with the impacts that COVID and Brexit have had on energy and transport costs and issues affecting the supply of materials, as well as general cost of living.

Opportunities highlighted included those in activities such as manufacturing, exporting, space and renewable energy.

Speaking after the meeting, Alistair Dodds chair of HIE, said:

“Moray has the highest proportion of employed people working in manufacturing of anywhere in Scotland. It has strong exporting industries, notably whisky and food and drink products. Traditional industries such as these, along with textiles, tourism and timber have consistently provided valuable employment and career opportunities.

“There are yet more, potentially huge, opportunities around renewable energy and net zero, especially relating to offshore wind and future hydrogen production.”

The HIE board’s itinerary included a visit to Orbex, which employs 75 people in Forres, and to Johnstons of Elgin, one of Moray’s longest established manufacturing businesses, which employs 750 people locally.

They also visited Elgin Youth café and discussed local poverty and low wage issues that still need to be addressed.

Alistair Dodds added:

“With fewer workers coming from overseas, many businesses across the Highlands and Islands have been experiencing challenges in recruiting people. To help address this, Johnston’s have been working closely with local schools to encourage more young people into the industry.

“The need to recruit and retain more young people was raised with us during our session on Tuesday, so this something that other companies may well also look at doing.”

Stuart Black, HIE chief executive, said the important social and economic contributions of the military bases at Lossiemouth and Kinloss were also highlighted during the board’s visit. He said:

“Many people formerly employed in these bases have remained in Moray and brought valuable transferable skills into the workforce. Some have set up local businesses, which has helped create a strong entrepreneurial culture and new employment opportunities.”

In terms of how HIE would use the feedback going forward, he added:

“We’ll continue to work with our partners in Moray Council, in housing associations and with Scottish Government to increase affordable housing provision, including more housing focused on the young workforce.

“We’ll also work with the Moray Chamber of Commerce and the council on projects such as the Developing Young Workforce initiative, which relates to the work of UHI Moray in addressing skills gaps.

“The Moray Growth Deal, meanwhile, is a big priority for us and our partners. It will bring £100m investment over ten years, which will be transformational for the area. The collaborative approach will benefit entrepreneurship, manufacturing, innovation and productivity, as well as community, transport and digital health.”

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