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Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) is rolling out a programme of Gaelic Awareness training for staff as part of an effort to promote and increase the use of the Gaelic language in Scotland.

The company’s board and senior management team recently took part in a course that covered the history of the language, its place in modern Scotland and how HIAL’s corporate strategy and Gaelic Language Plan tie-in.

HIAL chair, Lorna Jack, said: “HIAL is in the privileged position of welcoming a significant number of Scotland’s tourists and visitors and of often being their first experience of Highland or island life.

“I took part in the course and I know that we all appreciated the chance to learn more about Gaelic’s cultural history.  It was also refreshing to see how many people of all ages still truly value the language and music.  Gaelic is embedded in so many of the communities that we serve and we are taking steps to ensure that our airports and services reflect this.”

Ms Jack said HIAL is actively encouraging Gaelic speakers to join its board when the opportunity arises, and Gaelic speakers are welcome to apply for all roles within HIAL.

HIAL will also look to enhance awareness and use of Gaelic within the organisation, with a particular focus on customer-facing staff.  This will include producing language awareness training for colleagues and specific vocabulary resources for airport staff.  HIAL will also repeat a previous exercise of engaging with all employees to establish their abilities and requirements - and the requirements of passengers - so that future priorities can best support the use of Gaelic in HIAL’s airports.  

Delivered by Fèisean nan Gàidheal, the session was part-funded by Bòrd na Gàidhlig and Megan MacLellan, Communications Officer for Bòrd na Gàidhlig also attended the training. 

She said: “We are happy to support these training sessions through our GLAIF (Gaelic Language Act Implementation Fund) scheme and we are sure that this will benefit and assist staff and board members in implementing their most recent Gaelic Language Plan. 

“BnG’s GLAIF funding is available to all public authorities with a statutory Gaelic Language Plan and this time last year HIAL were successful in their application.  This year’s GLAIF scheme is open until 22 April 2021.”

HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon  said: “The Gaelic language has always played a significant role in our customer interactions and the communities we serve; however, we acknowledge that we can and should go further in ensuring that all our colleagues, irrespective of whether they are Gaelic or not, have a greater understanding of its cultural significance and importance.

“We are delighted to be working with Fèisean nan Gàidheal and a number of our local teams to develop additional resources that will enhance our awareness of Gaelic throughout the organisation.”