Scottish Government Aims to Retain Youth in Rural Regions


Commitment to Rural Youth

The Scottish government has announced its dedication to collaborate with Youth Scotland and the Young Islanders Network (YIN) to devise strategies that will motivate young individuals to either remain in or relocate to rural areas. Recognizing the vital role that youth play in sustaining population levels in rural and island communities, the government is taking steps to ensure their voices are integral to regional development.

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Empowering Island Voices

In August 2022, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon inaugurated YIN, establishing a platform for the youth of island communities to influence the Scottish government’s National Islands Plan and to discuss pivotal issues amongst themselves. Gougeon emphasized the necessity of engaging with young residents to craft effective solutions to population decline and to support them in achieving their aspirations.

Enhancing Local Engagement

The government plans to assist community councils in harnessing social media to expand their reach, particularly to younger demographics, ensuring their participation in the enhancement of local services. Additionally, an independent Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population will conduct research into population dynamics, migration, and mobility, with a special focus on Gaelic-speaking communities.

Youth-Led Change

Members of YIN, including Andy Tait, Kaydence Drayak, and Bryan Hauxwell, have expressed their eagerness to contribute to the Addressing Depopulation Action Plan. They stress the importance of sharing their lived experiences and insights to address critical needs such as reliable transportation, affordable housing, healthcare access, and sustainable employment opportunities. By collaborating with rural youth from various communities, they aim to inform and shape future policies.

A Call for Immediate Action

The young spokespeople from YIN urge for a present and reciprocal dialogue in decision-making processes, rather than having decisions made for them. They highlight the urgency of this engagement to prevent the potential loss of young population due to migration from their island homes.

Proactive Steps for a Vibrant Future

The Scottish government’s initiative to retain young people in rural areas is a proactive step towards ensuring a vibrant and sustainable future for these communities. By fostering an environment where the youth can thrive and contribute, the goal is to reverse the trend of depopulation and invigorate Scotland’s rural and island regions.

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