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Public Agencies Join To Assist New Residents Settle In To The Region

1st April 2007

A range of new services for people who have recently moved into the Highlands from other countries has won support from the European Social Fund (ESF).

Highland Wellbeing Alliance, a partnership of public sector organisations in the area, has secured ESF funding worth 260,500 to back initiatives which will help the area's new residents with issues such as improving their English language skills, gaining employment and finding out how to access services and advice.

The European assistance will be matched by equivalent funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), The Highland Council, Highland Adult Literacies, Communities Scotland and Highland and Islands Fire and Rescue Service to make up a package worth a total 521,000 .

Estimates based on National Insurance registrations indicate that in the five years to March 2006 over 5,500 people from other countries have arrived and registered to work in the Highlands - with over half coming from the Accession States of Europe in two years. Figures for the last year will be available in the autumn and they are expected to show continued growth in inward migration.

Sectors employing large numbers of foreign workers include food processing, the hospitality industry and construction.

"People from other countries are playing an important part in today's Highlands and Islands economy," said HIE's Head of Population Growth, Douglas Cowan speaking on behalf of Highland Wellbeing Alliance.

"With employment levels currently high across the region, we are very grateful to have so many people willing to come here to work and plug skills gaps in several important industries.

"Crucially, these people are also helping to raise population levels in many communities, something which is recognised as an important factor in sustaining and growing a successful economy in the future.

"As responsible public agencies, the Highland Wellbeing Alliance partners want to ensure we do all that we can to help new residents integrate and enable some of them to settle permanently in the area.

"We are very pleased to have received support from the European Social Fund to enable these projects to go ahead over the next 12 months."

The funding will be used to support the expansion of English language classes, recruiting bi-lingual staff to help children and families settle in and further independent advice to individuals and employers. In addition, a community safety officer will be appointed to undertake fire prevention and related work.

The Highlands and Islands Enterprise network is contributing 129,500; The Highland Council 53,000; Highland Adult Literacies 43,000, Highland and Islands Fire and Rescue Service 30,000 and Communities Scotland 5,000.

 

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