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Local young people chart path for a greener future | About

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A group of young people from Stirling and Clackmannanshire have become the latest to take part in a flagship initiative to develop the skills, understanding and perspectives needed to thrive in a green economy. 21 high school students from seven schools are taking part in the Young Pathfinders 2022/23 scheme, which launched on November 15, 2022 at Forth Valley College in Alloa. They become the second cohort of the scheme, after the pilot phase saw the participation of 12 pupils from four schools in Clackmannanshire.

The Young Pathfinders program is led by the University of Stirling and funded through the International Environment Center Scotland, a major investment made under the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal. The Center for the Environment will boost the creation of a regional net-zero economy in the Forth Valley, opening up new opportunities for employment and skills development, as Scotland transitions to greener ways of working cleaner and greener. The Center is funded by a combined investment of £22 million from the UK and Scottish Governments, and additional funding from the University of Stirling and Clackmannanshire Council.

As Scotland has committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, the next generation will be instrumental in ensuring this ambitious target is met. As part of the program, participants will undertake a series of activities encouraging them to engage in sustainable thinking and develop their own green solutions to local and global environmental issues.

Graduates of the program will be able to demonstrate increased environmental awareness, knowledge of “green skills” and green career paths, and an understanding of entrepreneurship and regional green businesses. The program also emphasizes the development of employability skills, including teamwork, leadership, communication and problem solving, with Pathfinders applying and demonstrating these skills through a graduation group project of program.

The seven schools participating in the 2022/23 cohort are Alloa Academy, Alva Academy, Dollar Academy, Dunblane High School, Lornshill Academy, St Modan’s High School and Stirling High School.

The Pathfinders were joined at the launch event by Councilor Ellen Forson, Leader of Clackmannanshire Council.

Clackmannanshire Council Leader Cllr Ellen Forson said: “As the climate emergency deepens and tackling climate issues becomes more urgent, it is vital that local government invests more time and money Clackmannanshire Council is committed to a greener future, and I am proud to see our young people taking a proactive approach to understanding the challenges faced in tackling climate change so they can thrive in a green economy.”

Rebecca Pankhurst, SIEC Manager at the University of Stirling, added: “The next generation will be affected by climate change like no other. This is why it is essential that young people are supported to develop the skills and ideas that will enable them to thrive in a climate-changing world. The Young Pathfinders program – now in its second year – will enable a group of young people from across Stirling and Clackmannanshire to think and act greener, making truly sustainable decisions while developing the skills to do advance these ideas.

The launch of the 2022/23 cohort was also welcomed by Cllr Chris Kane, head of Stirling Council.

Cllr Chris Kane said: “Young people are leading the fight against the climate crisis, so it’s important to harness that enthusiasm and give it the platform to grow even further with the Young Pathfinders programme.

“Combining this with a project like the International Environment Center Scotland perfectly sums up the goals of the City Region Deal: to create sustainable growth and learning while developing skills for the future. It’s great to see.

The Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal is a £90.2 million investment by the UK Government and the Scottish Government in innovation and infrastructure that will drive inclusive economic growth across the region. Regional partners including Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council and the University of Stirling will invest up to £123.8m, resulting in a deal worth over £214m , to be delivered over the next 10 to 15 years.

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