Ealasaid MacDonald, Labour's General Election candidate in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has welcomed the announcement that the Comhairle are to create over 40 apprenticeships.

Ealasaid said: 'This is a very positive step by the Comhairle and should be warmly welcomed. They have chosen to invest in our young people, looking to the future and seeking to ensure our economy has the skills available which will help them, and our islands, to flourish.

"If we create skills and jobs we can start to address depopulation which is the biggest threat facing our islands. I am excited to see the wide range of opportunities that are available for our young people from Barra to Ness.

"This is a model which could, and should, be adopted by other organisations. Workforce planning is essential as we seek to stem depopulation and create a viable and stable economy going forward.

"There are opportunities within the islands to replicate this model; wouldn't it be great to see our engineers of the future at Arnish and our health care professionals training with Western Isles Health Board?

"I am excited by this apprentice programme and I have no doubt that our young people will be too. If elected, I would be delighted to work across the islands to ensure that these opportunities are expanded.'