From education to employment

Candidates embrace textile innovation and local industry

Woman using textiles equipment

@BordersCollege Department of Enterprise and Business Innovation (DEBI) recently ran the Textile Skills for Industry course, offering candidates the opportunity to learn more about the local textile industry and discover the variety of job roles available. 

As part of the course, candidates visited Scott and Charters in Hawick to learn about knitwear manufacturing, and Lochcarron in Selkirk to discover how yarn is dyed and fabrics are woven. They also received a tour of Schofield Finishers and Dyers in Galashiels to see the various processes woven fabrics undergo before being made into scarves, kilts, or furnishings.

Ruth Naida, who was a candidate on the course, said:

“I’m really pleased with the progress that I made on this course. Before the course, I was ready to give up. I had no contacts in the knitwear industry and too many technical questions about the jump from one-off hobby production to professionally produced, original knitwear. My skills in finishing knitwear, particularly mending and linking, were also lacking. The structure of the course and the flexibility of the tutor have allowed me to practice, research and test a range of technical practicalities required to professionalise my knitwear products.

“The course motivated me, giving me access to the technical expertise that I needed to professionalise my knitwear products and provided me with a wealth of Scottish textile industry contacts, which I intend to use as my knitwear evolves into something sellable.

“The course is a great opportunity for those thinking about working in the textiles industry, as well as for those like myself, who have a level of skill and knowledge and are looking for a way in.

“The factory visits helped me answer a key question about the viability of my work. As a result, I’ve found a new yarn to use in my knitwear. I’m also more confident about approaching a factory to explore the possibility of knitting my designs.”

Fellow candidate Lizzi Young commented:

This course was brilliant! I really enjoyed all the content, refreshing some of my existing knowledge and also gaining plenty of new experience and knowledge.

“In particular, the industry visits were wonderfully insightful, and have given me a good insight into possible employment opportunities within the local textiles industry, which is my goal.”

Katharine Donald, who was the Tutor/Assessor for the course, said:

“Textile Modern Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for learners to gain a recognised qualification whilst working. They also enable workplaces to invest in their employees and recognise the existing skills they hold whilst offering opportunities for them to further develop skills and progress within their industry. 

“As a Textiles Assessor, I help candidates select the units that best match their job and meet with them regularly throughout their apprenticeship to discuss how they can evidence the criteria required. Each candidate is different, so we tailor our approach to best suit each candidate, giving support where required.

“Ruth had a business idea she had already begun to explore. The course enabled her to progress further by speaking with industry experts to understand how she might develop her products and achieve a professional finish. Ruth has recently applied for a VACMA grant that she hopes to use to finalise her prototypes.

“Lizzi had previously studied Textiles and wanted to use the Textile Skills for Industry course as a way of finding out about the textile job opportunities available locally and how she could best use her skillset. Towards the end of the course, Lizzi approached several local companies. This proactive approach has been successful, and she recently attended an interview at Barrie Knitwear and has started a role as a Finishing Operative. I am delighted she was able to gain a job so quickly –  a great opportunity for her.”

Related Articles