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Former Farrier, Matthew Jackson, appointed Chair of DYW West Highland

Lochaber Chamber of Commerce is delighted to announce that Matthew Jackson, the Group Operations Manager at Sonas Hospitality, a family owned business with three successful hotels on the Isle of Skye, has been appointed as the new Chair of Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) West Highland.


Launched in 2016, DYW West Highland forms part of the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment strategy, which aims to ensure young people in Scotland have the skills and confidence needed to make the seamless transition between school and the workforce.  There are 21 regional DYW groups in Scotland, leading and driving the change in employers’ engagement with schools and colleges.  DYW West Highland is hosted by Lochaber Chamber of Commerce and covers Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross.


Rob Woodward, Chair of the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Employers’ Forum, welcomed Matthew’s appointment and said: “I am pleased to welcome Matthew to the DYW West Highland Board and more generally to the DYW agenda.  Matthew brings a wealth of experience, understanding the needs of employers in the Highlands and how they can make a difference to the future aspirations of all our young people through a collaborative approach between schools and employers.  I look forward to working with Matthew as we continue to ensure that the DYW agenda becomes an integral part of our offering to young people and particularly in the West Highland region.  I also want to record my thanks to Olier Stephen of BSW Timber Ltd, the outgoing Chair of DYW West Highland, for his commitment to DYW and I’m pleased that we will continue t benefit from his experience and enthusiasm in his role as a board member”


Matthew Jackson said of his appointment: “I’m looking forward to the challenge and working with the team at DYW West Highland to help and support our young folks with their dreams and aspirations.“


Matthew Jackson joined Sonas Hospitality five years ago, after the company purchased Skeabost House Hotel, where his hands-on approach took the property through a complete renovation, transforming it into the multi-award-winning establishment it is today.


After leaving Portree High School for a career in Farriery and serving a four-year apprenticeship in Sutherland, Matthew set up his own business. He later specialized in a more holistic approach to equine care and, thereafter, taught students from around the world whilst working for a private education company. He continues to teach and lecture on equine subjects relating to his time as a farrier.


Given the right tools and knowledge, Matthew truly believes that we can all excel in our chosen passions and the careers we choose to follow. Matthew Jackson added: “Our roles should always be to assist others in achieving their highest potential with the right support and network around them. My own apprenticeship journey looking back was very much enriched by the hands-on learning that this learning model provides. The ability to recognize strengths and weaknesses at an early stage allowed a more focused learning experience and guidance from colleagues and educators alike.”


Matthew also actively supports and volunteers for a wide range of church youth work and school-based activities including being a member of the Parent Council.




Media contact

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: [email protected]

M: +44 (0)7913 951717


Notes to Editors:


Developing the Young Workforce West Highland

Website –

Twitter –

Facebook –

LinkedIn –


Launched late summer 2016, DYW West Highland forms part of the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment strategy, which aims to ensure young people in Scotland have the skills and confidence needed to make the seamless transition between school and the workforce.  There are 21 regional DYW groups in Scotland, leading and driving the change in employers’ engagement with schools and colleges.


The DYW West Highland area covers Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross.


Working as a synthesis of schools, partner agencies, employers, parents, carers and young people, DYW West Highland’s goal is to bridge the gap between learning and working to allow each respective group to engage with one another, fostering a culture of collaboration through a variety of opportunities.  The DYW West Highland team aim to expand opportunities to young people, through employer-led initiatives, so that they gain valuable workplace skills and further education opportunities, making them more attractive to employers.  In doing so they can help employers shape the future workforce of the West Highlands and help better prepare young people for the world of work.


DYW West Highland is hosted by Lochaber Chamber of Commerce –


In January 2019 DYW West Highland released a series of inspirational and educational video case studies showcasing apprenticeship programmes in a diverse range of industry sectors across Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, to inspire young people to focus on the ‘earn whilst you learn’ route as a credible ‘Plan A’ career path.   In the coming weeks they will release some new videos, this time showcasing apprenticeship opportunities at Forestry & Land Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne, Liberty British Aluminium and Highland Council.


Developing the Young Workforce

Developing the Young Workforce is Scotland’s youth employment strategy and its government’s commitment to tackling youth unemployment and improving the skill levels of young people to adapt to market requirements. It brings together the education system, employers, civil society, youth organisations and local authorities in order to shape the curriculum and expand the modern apprenticeship programme. DYW is now an integral part of the Scottish education system and aligned with ambitious national goals to realize Agenda 2030 and transform into a green economy and a fair society. Its headline target, to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021, has been reached four years ahead of schedule and more than 28,000 Modern Apprenticeships have been created.


The Future Policy Silver Award 2019

The Developing the Young Workforce Programme has recently been awarded the Future Policy Silver Award 2019 by the World Future Council. The Future Policy Award is the only global award that recognises policies for the benefit of present and future generations.  The DYW programme has been selected among 67 nominated policies from 36 countries. Also known as the ‘Oscar for Best Policies’, the Future Policy Award highlights the world’s most impactful policies which empower youth. The other winning laws and policies come from Rwanda, Estonia, Nepal, Los Angeles (USA), Senegal, South Africa and Europe.


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