THE Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills recently visited the Scottish Borders to engage with inspiring initiatives in the business and charity sectors.

Jamie Hepburn MSP visited Stobo Castle, which recently received the Investors in Young People Platinum (IIYP) award in recognition of its work in supporting the employment and training of young people.

The family-owned destination spa has flourished by investing in staff training, and the 2017/18 financial year saw profits break the one-million-pound barrier for the first time.

The business has also taken a keen interest in the local community, including supporting several charities, working with local schools and funding road repairs.

He was invited to Stobo by local MSP Christine Grahame, who was keen to highlight its work as a responsible employer and as an example of a successful Borders-based hospitality business.

She said: “I’m delighted the Minister has been able to come and see Stobo first hand, as it’s an excellent example of a successful business with a social conscience.

“They really invest in their staff and place value on giving them proper training as evidenced by their IIYP Platinum status - many of its staff whom I met have been there for decades so that speaks for itself.

“Hospitality is a key industry for our economy and it’s wonderful to see a business thrive locally.

“Having said that, it’s not without its challenges in the current climate, and the Minister heard first hand from Stobo about its concerns, particularly around the current Brexit bourach given 40 of its staff are from other EU countries.”

The current owner of Stobo Castle, Stephen Winyard, echoed Ms Grahame’s concerns about the uncertainty created by Brexit. He said: “Closer to home, Brexit must not be allowed to damage Scotland’s tourism industry.

“Stobo currently employs 40 EU Nationals and has done for many years.

“They are hugely valued and their contribution to our success is immeasurable.”

In addition to hearing about Stobo’s approach to investment in its workforce and staff retention, Mr Hepburn visited a local charity that aims to equip young people with the requisite skills to gain employment.

Works+, a Galashiels-based employability project, works with socially disadvantaged, unemployed young adults by offering ten-week programmes.

The MSP spoke to young people currently attending the Works+ project to hear about the unique support package offered by the organisation and he praised the charity for “supporting young people in the Borders into work.”

Scott Wight, Senior Operations Manager at Works+, told the Border Telegraph: "We were delighted to welcome Jamie Hepburn to see first hand the kind of support we provide.

"Mr Hepburn was very interested to find out what impact this work has on participants and the local economy."

The project was set up last year following the closure of Tomorrow’s People, an organisation which aimed to equip young people living in rural areas with the skills and confidence needed to enter the job market.

Since its inception, Works+ has worked with over 50 young people, helping 95 percent of them secure employment or further education places.