Knitwear scheme to roll out nationwide is hailed

A CO-FOUNDER of the local knitwear apprenticeship scheme that has been rolled out across Scotland has said the success of the initiative has exceeded his “wildest dreams”.

Robin Deas of House of Cheviot was at the forefront of a programme that launched last October, when 14 knitwear manufacturers joined forces to address a skills crisis that threatened the survival of the historic industry.

Cardonald College and Creative Skillset have enabled companies to take on more than 60 apprentices since then, and a similar setup is set to be replicated throughout Scotland in the coming months.

“In all my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined the success we’ve had,” said Mr Deas. “The opportunity for Scotland and the rest of the country is going to be enormous. The simple formula that we had is working so well, and it’s been taken on by all the bodies through the Government, which is just staggering.

“We in the knitwear industry in the Borders have achieved so much in such a short space of time.”

Mr Deas said that the scheme was born of an obvious need to address the issue of training a greater number of people to work in the industry and preserve skills within the trade.

“From that marvellous first meeting when about two thirds of local companies came together, we were able to quantify very quickly what our problems were,” he explained. “I just can’t believe what we’ve achieved. The Common-Riding is coming up, the sun’s out, and everything’s looking great just now.”