Scottish Borders to get centre for excellence in textiles in Hawick

Written by Jenni Davidson on 9 November 2018 in News

The new centre in Hawick will provide industry-specific training for the textiles and knitwear industries

Hawick, Scottish Borders - Image credit: Daniel via Flickr

A centre of excellence for textiles is to open in the Scottish Borders to address skills shortages in the textiles and knitwear sector.

The centre, which will be located in a former mill building in Hawick, will open in 2019 to provide industry-specific training for both the current and future workforce.

As well as foundation and modern apprenticeships for 16 to 19 year olds, upskilling opportunities and leadership and management courses planned for those already working in the sector.

Over the longer term, the plan is to create a textile innovation centre and showcase and marketing facilities for the local industry in addition to the training centre.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for business and economic development, said: “This initiative will address business critical issues in the local textiles and knitwear sector and provide a stream of skilled young workers across all roles, enabling the world renowned Borders businesses in this sector to address succession planning issues and reduce or remove the need to send work overseas.

“This project will also build on the confidence in the sector, which will hopefully lead to continued investment by those companies already established here and inward investment from others who see the benefits of such collaboration.

“Importantly it also provides genuine work skills for local young people based on a clear pathway to local jobs, which delivers immediate and long term economic benefits to the Scottish Borders.”

David Hamilton of Johnstons of Elgin said: “This is a fantastic project that supports the local textiles and knitwear sector and addresses a challenge that many of us have faced for a number of years.

“This is a sector that is growing in the Scottish Borders, thanks to the high quality products that are made here and the reputations that have been built over many years by our brands, and the training and recruitment of young people is vital to ensuring that we can continue to thrive and grow.

“The Scottish Borders, and particularly Hawick, is known the world over for the quality of textiles and knitwear workmanship and this project has the potential to make the area a leader also in the training and development of the sector’s workforce, which could attract more businesses to re-locate here.”

The centre of excellence is a partnership project involving Scottish Borders Council, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, the Department for Work and Pensions and local textile and knitwear manufacturing businesses.

The project was awarded £610,000 from the Scottish Government through the South of Scotland Economic Partnership in July.

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing said he was “delighted” to be able to fund the development through the South of Scotland Economic Partnership.

He commented: “The south of Scotland is renowned for the quality of its textiles industries and it is important that we invest in that excellence for the future.

“The centre will bring real and long term benefits to the area, developing the talent needed to support the industry’s future success and enabling people to pursue long term careers in this important sector.”

The centre of excellence in textiles is one of the eight projects funded the South of Scotland Economic Partnership to date.

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