The Board of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is considering the options for developing vocational training in the Park to better equip young people living here with a variety of skills aimed at improving their employability.
The CNPA’s role to help economic and social development in the National Park means that better quality education and training is key, helping retain young people in the area and supporting local businesses.
Recent research has found that young people often face the choice of seasonal, low paid work or moving away from home to attend college or university. Numbers opting to attend higher education are increasing but this is not always the best route for school leavers with some returning to unemployment after their courses. Well planned, supported and funded vocational training can offer another choice when leaving school, by entering well paid employment and therefore allowing young people to stay in the area.
The Cairngorms National Park offers a wide variety of employment options including outdoor leisure, agriculture and conservation management, hospitality and manufacturing as well as the more traditional trades.
Working with industry; the enterprise networks; the Association of Cairngorms Community Councils; Cairngorms Chamber of Commerce; local authorities; Careers Scotland and others, initial research has been carried out into the support that already exists and how it could be improved.
At its Board meeting in Nethybridge last week (Friday 1 July) members were updated on the work carried out to date. The Board discussed the option of a local vocational training scheme, either building on existing qualifications such as Modern Apprenticeships, or creating new rural skills qualifications.
John Thorne, the CNPA’s Economic and Social Development Officer explained: “There is strong support locally for a scheme that would allow apprentices to choose from a range of sector skills and core skills to build enough qualifications to sustain year-round employment. This reflects the seasonality of jobs in the Park and the range of skills employers demand.
“There are already examples of where young people have built up their skills for a variety of jobs but it is a struggle to find trainers, pay for travel to college and locate employers able to take on apprentices.
“To gain year-round employment, an apprentice may need to gain skills in hospitality, ski centre operations and gamekeeping as wells as core skills such as IT and customer service training. A local scheme could encourage multi-skilling and enhance national schemes, adding up to better supported learning.
“We are now investigating local skills gaps in businesses and the needs of school leavers and the results will be reported back later in the year. The Board will then decide what action is appropriate to meet those needs.”
Proposals for a pilot scheme will be presented to board members for approval later in the year.
The paper can be accessed in full at www.cairngorm.co.uk/parkauthority/papers