Young people living in rural areas need better public transport and broadband, the constituency MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has said.
Kate Forbes, who is one of the youngest MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, spoke out after Scottish Rural Action published a report showing that almost half of young people have been prevented from going to work because travel is too expensive.
SRA’s findings, based on a survey of young people living in rural communities, also revealed that over a fifth over young people’s income is spent on travel to work, and almost 30 per cent have been stopped from accessing education or training because travel is too expensive.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “Whilst these figures do not surprise me, this research quantifies a really important challenge in rural Scotland.
“I believe that young people in rural areas should have the same access to education, employment and training opportunities.
“Whilst there has been great progress in recent years, with the University of the Highlands and Islands, Developing the Young Workforce and other initiatives, these are not enough in themselves.
“Better connectivity, in the form of public transport and broadband to name just two, has got to be part of the vision to improve equity.”
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch continued: “To grow Scotland’s economy, we’ve got invest in the next generation and no part of Scotland can be left behind.
“The trend of depopulation is still a threat in the most rural and remote areas of Scotland, and in the Highlands small increases in population are forecast to be driven by an older population.
“We need young, skilled workers in the rural Scotland and if higher costs are either obstructing their education or encouraging them to leave then we have a lot more work to do.”