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Young people, parents and carers and adults across Lewis and Harris came together last week (Tuesday 26 March) to find out more about career paths and opportunities across the Western Isles at a first-of-its-kind event for the area.

The Lewis and Harris Local Industry and Jobs Fair, organised by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Developing the Young Workforce Outer Hebrides, saw more than 40 local employers come together to meet with local people and showcase their work.

More than 1,000 people, including pupils from the Nicolson Institute and Sir E Scott School, were in attendance, making it the largest event of its kind to take place in the Western Isles.

The Fair was designed to showcase the variety of employment opportunities available in the Western Isles, with employers taking part from a range of industries, including construction, health and social care, engineering, automotive, telecommunications and media.

Anthony Standing, SDS Head of Region for the North of Scotland, said: “The inaugural Lewis and Harris Local Industry and Jobs Fair was a huge success.

“It was fantastic to see so many Western Isles employers in one place, giving individuals the chance to see the rich variety of opportunities available in this part of the country.

“Events like these give people the chance to expand their networks, develop their knowledge and realise what’s out there for them. I’m certain we’ve helped many people make life-changing connections through this event, and I’m hopeful that the local economy will benefit as a result.”

Exhibitors offered a variety of different workshops and hands-on demonstrations. Kiwis Garage brought a classic sports car for visitors to explore and find out more about working as a car mechanic.

Attendees also had a chance to learn about CPR from the Scottish Ambulance Service, tried on firefighting kit with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and got to try equipment used by opticians, thanks to R Doig Optometrists.

Other employers in attendance included BT, the Army, Police Scotland, Harris Distillery and MG Alba.

Cllr Convener Norman A Macdonald, who opened the event, said: “This is a unique opportunity for people to meet with industry experts from different sectors across the Western Isles under the one roof. 

“The wealth of knowledge gathered in the hall will give everyone a great opportunity to get valuable information, on local industry opportunities available, and potential progression routes. It will also help to encourage our young people to consider local apprenticeship opportunities.”

Dolina Smith, the Comhairle’s Apprenticeship Manager, added: “It was encouraging to see apprentice representation at a number of the stands, giving the young people the opportunity to hear at first hand the wide range of jobs available in the islands.” 

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