From education to employment

New training programme to support Borders textile industry

Textiles image

A new training programme which will aim to help provide critical skills for the textile and knitwear industry in the Scottish Borders has been launched.

The programme, to be run by Borders College and supported by South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) and Scottish Borders Council (SBC), will deliver training targeted at meeting the requirements of the industry and promoting a career in textiles as an exciting opportunity.

Key activities from the new programme, which will be launched in early 2023 will include:

  • Developing workshops aimed at young people in local schools to introduce them to the textiles industry and learn more about the roles available
  • Providing an accelerated short course for groups such as school leavers, unemployed, those seeking a career change and part time or home workers, which will provide core and employability skills
  • A careers day for the industry to engage with potential employees and showcase their businesses
  • Providing clear guidance on the progression routes and opportunities in the industry

Borders College and partners will work with local textile businesses, including the newly created industry working group, to ensure the training programme continues to be focussed on what the industry needs.

As part of a review of textile training provision in the Borders, a locally delivered bespoke training programme was identified as a sustainable option.

This review was carried out following the decision to end the Centre of Excellence in Textiles pilot project in September 2021, due to a series of significant challenges, most notably COVID-19.

Katharine Mathison, Director of Enterprise and Business Innovation at Borders College, said:

“We have delivered the Modern Apprenticeship in Textiles course for some years now and provide a progression from SCQF level five to level seven. However, we recognised, in consultation with key employers, that additional skills were required for entry to the industry.

“We are delighted to add the Skills for Work Textiles course to our portfolio and further support local employers to recruit and retain staff.”

Councillor Scott Hamilton, SBC’s Executive Member for Community and Business Development, said:

“Through our work with a range of partners this new training programme has been developed to help meet the needs of the historic textile sector here in the Scottish Borders and will hopefully provide local manufacturers with suitably skilled employees.

“This will not only help the sustainability of the sector but also provide training and employment opportunities for our young people, those out of work and those looking to increase their income.

“The Borders has been renowned for the quality of its textiles for hundreds of years and we want to ensure that is maintained.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of SOSE, added:

“During the review of textile industry’s skills requirements, it was strongly recommended that the chosen training option needed to be sustainable, focussed on business needs, drawing on existing expertise, straightforward and measurable.

“We believe the new training programme fits these criteria.

“We look forward to working alongside partners and the industry on the new programme to ensure we help the significant and historic textile industry in the Scottish Borders build a flourishing and innovative future.”

Nick Bannerman, Managing Director of Johnston’s of Elgin in Hawick, is a leading member of the new industry working group set up by local textile and knitwear companies.

Mr Bannerman said:

“I speak for all the managing directors of our local knitwear companies in supporting the provision of training which aims to create a pool of newly trained and skilled people. This will help us grow into the future, as well as benefit the social fabric of our local towns.”

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