Ensuring coordinated action towards the more efficient operation of the Gaelic labour market will be the focus of attention at a special seminar to be held in Inverness tomorrow (Tuesday 29th November.)
There are currently hundreds of jobs within the Gaelic economy, in a wide range of sectors, from broadcasting to education, public services to the creative industries. However employers still face real challenges finding staff with the right combination of language and job skills; and young people can find it hard to get sufficient advice and support from careers and employment agencies.
These are the topics to be considered by representatives from across the Gaelic, education and learning and skills sectors.
The keynote address will be made by Dr. Alasdair Allan, MSP, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Skills, and with responsibility for Gaelic. The Minister said: “Gaelic-related employment contributes significantly to Scotland’s economy by supporting jobs across Scotland, including in fragile rural local economies.
“The Scottish Government is committed to building on that contribution, as well as providing the language itself with a more secure future. I am delighted to see an event like this taking place and would hope that all the agencies represented will use the opportunity to take stock of what they’re doing for Gaelic, as well as how they can work with others to greater effect.”
The seminar is being organised by Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG), in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, and will take place in Cowan House, the Inverness offices of HIE and SDS.
The most recent research into the Gaelic labour market, in 2008, estimated there were some 735 ‘Gaelic essential’ jobs in Scotland, with a further 440 being classified as ‘Gaelic desirable’. 65% of these are in the Highlands and Western Isles, with the remaining 35% being spread across the rest of the country. However it also identified a need for more consistent data-gathering in order to have access to up-to-date statistics in future.
This report, by Hecla Consulting, also highlighted a need for further language training for Gaelic speakers and more co-ordinated activity by agencies involved in labour market, and has been the springboard behind the organisation of the seminar.
Up to 40 people are expected to attend representing a wide range of bodies and points of view, from employers to the further education sector, and from those involved in curriculum development to careers advice in schools. It’s hoped that agreement can be secured on priority actions and closer partnership working.
Comunn na Gàidhlig Chairman, and Highland Councillor, Hamish Fraser said: “We know that a growing number of bodies from the public to the private sectors are increasingly aware of Gaelic, and trying to do what they can to assist its development. However we also have a view that this work can perhaps be a little unco-ordinated at times and not achieving the best possible impact in terms of creating jobs; motivating young people; or matching existing employees with the right training opportunities.
“We’re delighted to be working alongside HIE, SDS and Bòrd na Gàidhlig to deliver this seminar. It’s clear to all of these partners that Gaelic has much, much more to offer modern Scotland, both culturally and economically, and hopefully this event can be another step towards realising that objective. The ultimate goal here is a more confident and committed workforce, and flowing from that a stronger and more sustainable Gaelic language, and a stronger local and national economy.”
Among the types of programmes that may be discussed and promoted, could be increased work-placement opportunities at a variety of levels, from Gaelic apprenticeships to Gaelic graduate placement schemes. One such scheme is already operated by Comunn na Gàidhlig, with funding via Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Of the four places currently supported, one is for a parental advisory role at Comann nam Pàrant. This is being undertaken by Dingwall-based Kenneth MacKenzie. He said: “I learnt Gaelic at school and university and wanted to work in a Gaelic job, but most of the part-time work I could get was in the retail sector. In the current job market, without this scheme, I would probably be working in a shop and not using my language skills. I’d probably also have had to move to Edinburgh or Glasgow and my job with Comann nam Pàrant has allowed me both to work in Gaelic and stay in the Highlands.”