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Candidate voices concerns over 'brain drain' as young Highlanders struggle to find work

By Scott Maclennan

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Molly Nolan, far north Lib Dem candidate.
Molly Nolan, far north Lib Dem candidate.

The Highland Liberal Democrats have called for urgent action to plug the North’s 'brain drain' after revealing nearly six in ten graduates from the University of the Highlands and Islands don’t find work in the region.

Molly Nolan, the Scottish Liberal Democrat for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, warned the Scottish Government is failing to create enough opportunities for young people to “live and work across the communities they call home.”

It comes after an investigation by the Party revealed only 579 students at the University of the Highlands and Islands from the academic year 2017\2018, the latest available figures, found work across the region.

Of the graduates that stayed in the Highlands and Islands, just 67.1 per cent found full-time employment, 24.8 per cent found part-time work and a further 3.2 per cent - 19 graduates - started their own business.

The intervention comes amidst growing concerns of the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on young people. According to Bank of England forecasts, youth unemployment in Highland has risen from 768 to 1430 and could rise to 2,200 next spring.

Molly Nolan, Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate for Caithness, Sutherland & Ross, said: “With more young people eager to stay in Highlands and Islands, it is deeply frustrating that so many graduates from our very own University leave in search of work elsewhere.

“While I don’t doubt some will choose to leave, all too often young people tell me there aren't the opportunities to live and work in the communities they call home.

“With the added worry of rising youth unemployment, the next Scottish Government must urgently act. Ministers must plug this brain drain by prioritising affordable housing, digital connectivity and creating new green jobs.

“To deliver this ambitious plan for the future, we need to put the recovery first. By doing so, no longer will young people be forced to choose between career and their home.”

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