Shetland will have to share a careers service manager with Aberdeen City following a decision by Skills Development Scotland (SDS).
According to the organisation the newly recruited team leader will have responsibility for Shetland but be based in Aberdeen with a view to travelling north each week and being “readily available and contactable by the team and partners” when not in Shetland.
A spokesman for SDS said: “We are committed to maintaining effective frontline services in Shetland. A team leader with responsibility for Aberdeen and Shetland has been appointed who will visit Shetland weekly and play a prominent role on the ground and with partners.
“We will also be appointing a centre supervisor on Shetland to be responsible for the team’s day-to-day operations. Working with local partners we have identified key priorities for Shetland and these objectives are being addressed collaboratively to maximise benefits of sharing resources and services for customers.
“This joined-up approach is enabling us to monitor and respond more closely to local needs. New figures released today show that in 2011/12, SDS provided more than 1,000 people with career information, advice and guidance, supported nearly 100 Modern Apprenticeship new starts and saw 67 people join our employability programmes.”
The move was criticised by MSP Tavish Scott, who said the needs of the two communities were very different and whoever thought up the idea should be thinking about careers advice themselves.
Mr Scott said: “The Scottish government has cut Shetland’s careers service. It has been centralised down to Aberdeen and, despite claims to the contrary, young people in Shetland will suffer as a result. I will be interested to see if our team leader really is going to visit Shetland once a week right through the winter.
“I am disappointed that services that were local and accountable are now being controlled by a Scottish-wide quango; the Shetland careers service is now being managed from Aberdeen, the Orkney one from Thurso. We are coming to expect this type of centralisation from the SNP Government but ‘expecting’ and ‘accepting’ are two different things.
“The Shetland community are best placed and more able to understand and take care of their own affairs. I will be meeting with Skills Development Scotland to discuss my concerns. I think whoever decided these cuts were a good idea should be considering some careers advice themselves.”