Community campaign launched to expand local population by 25%

UHI North, West and Hebrides is a proud supporter of the Love Lochaber campaign, an initiative to boost the local population.

see full size image
Construction students at UHI North, West and Hebrides. Left to right, standing, Aaron Callendar, Deizel MacLean, David Campbell (Director of Business Enterprise and Development (West), Ben Stewart, Sonny Kardas, Peter Prokop. Left to right, kneeling, Josh Burnett, Ryan Armour and Jack Milligan.

Launching today, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the Lochaber area, focusing on its lifestyle advantages and diverse range of opportunities for skilled employment.

Targets include increasing the population by up to 25% by attracting new talent and increasing the proportion of young people who remain in the area to pursue skilled employment or higher education.

UHI North, West and Hebrides will play a key role in the campaign as the college and university of choice for the area, with study options in courses such as adventure tourism, maritime and aquaculture, creative industries, sustainable development, and Gaelic. Along with further education and higher education qualifications up to postgraduate level in a range of more traditional subjects, this contributes to the growth of skilled professionals in the area.

David Campbell, Director for Business Enterprise and Development (West), UHI North, West and Hebrides, said: "Our distinctive courses attract students from the rest of the UK, and beyond, with many choosing to remain in the area when they finish their studies. This campaign highlights the benefits of choosing Lochaber to live, work and study and the fantastic opportunities for a work-life balance. As the local college and university, we will continue to work with our students, our local employers and communities to ensure we have the right learning and support in place for people to study here."

The online campaign is being led by Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), working with businesses, communities, and public sector partners.

Frazer Coupland, CEO at Lochaber Chamber of Commerce, said: "Our aim is to see a 25% population increase by 2040. We want to expand our community and by launching this campaign show people from all over the UK and beyond what we have to offer and what makes the area a brilliant place to live, work and study. The campaign is community led and we believe that relocating to Lochaber offers an exceptional work-life balance. There are a diverse range of career opportunities across the region with SSE, Mowi, BSW, Alvance, and NHS Highland alongside unrivalled outdoor amenities including Nevis Range. Lochaber has everything you need.”

Positive developments are already taking place across Lochaber. They include an ambitious and far-reaching masterplan for the future of Fort William’s town centre, an initiative developed by The Highland Council, HIE, and the Lochaber Chamber of Commerce. The next phase involves a series of public engagement events across Lochaber to gather diverse community input to ensure a collective approach to shaping the masterplan.

Graham Smith, project engineer for Alvance, is among those keen to talk up what Lochaber has to offer. He said: “Having a young family and getting to bring them up in this environment with a huge amount of likeminded people is just brilliant. We used to spend a lot of our weekends travelling to the hills and the mountains, so it made sense to move to the outdoor capital of the UK. It has massively improved our work-life balance. From the stunning landscapes to the welcoming community, it’s a truly special opportunity to call Lochaber home.”

Alastair Nicolson, HIE’s area manager for Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, said: “This campaign will showcase the countless opportunities across this amazing region, whether you’re starting a career, raising a family, or just looking for a change. Our aim is for more people to recognise and appreciate what Lochaber can offer them and encourage growth across the region benefiting communities, businesses and organisations. We hope to see people from all over the UK engage with the campaign and get in touch to find out more about Lochaber and what their lives could look like here.”

Campaign organisers have created a website where people can find out more about what Lochaber can offer as a place to live, work and study.