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Source: Scotland – Highland Council

The Highland Council’s Recovery Board members have welcomed the pro-active steps being taken by the local authority to address the economic challenges facing the region.

At today’s meeting of the Recovery Board, Members noted a report from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, outlining the areas of Highland which will be most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Board supported the report’s conclusion that there is a short term need to support business survival and recovery; tourism and hospitality and creative industries businesses in particular; and modern apprenticeships, business recruitment and job retention to help young people and prevent out-migration.

Highland Council staff have been heavily engaged with economic recovery since the last report to the Recovery Board in May 2020. Along with continued engagement with key economic delivery partners, a significant amount of work has gone into engaging with key stakeholders in terms of business support or identifying key recovery projects right across Highland.

The first meeting of the Highland Economic Recovery Partnership took place in July and was well attended by public sector partners. Excellent discussion took place around immediate priorities. The next meeting is scheduled for late October.

Depute Leader of the Council and Recovery Board Chair, Cllr Alasdair Christie said: “A significant response is required across Council and its partners to ensure that the most acute effects of the labour market crisis are mitigated and that, in particular, the ‘scarring’ effect on young people and the impact this may have on their future career opportunities and wellbeing does not take place.”

In a report to the Recovery Board today Executive Chief Officer for Infrastructure and Environment, Malcolm MacLeod outlined Highland Council’s specific roles in recovery. Firstly, Highland Council will take a pro-active leadership role in the multi-agency response required and ensure that clients are offered and receive the support services they need to enable them to prepare for and access the labour market and secondly the job and work placement opportunities that Highland Council can provide as an employer will be strengthened as well as the support it can bring to the private, public and third sectors through capital expenditure and supporting development projects.

Cllr Christie added: “This increase in activity builds on the employability services function already underway within the Council. The current Employability team is fully occupied with the delivery of current activity. Certain activity, for example, an expansion of the current Youth Trainee work placement scheme will be led by existing staff but may require 6.5 additional resource to support.”

Progress will now be made on the next phase of delivery.

An Economic Recovery Strategy will be presented to members of the Economy and Infrastructure Committee in November to outline how Highland Council will continue to support economic recovery. This strategy will pull together all the current recovery workstreams and ensure they are properly co-ordinated.

MIL OSI United Kingdom