A NEW textiles apprenticeship scheme has been launched with the backing of the town’s knitwear giants.
And it is hoped the Skillset Apprenticeship programme will go a long way to saving the industry’s traditional skills.
The scheme aims to recruit and train new talent to the industry and has been set up, with the help of Skillset, by Robin Deas from the House of Cheviot and Mike Wilson from the Scottish Borders Exporters’ Association alongside other knitwear manufacturers in the town, including: Hawick Knitwear, Hawick Cashmere, Peter Scott, Johnston’s of Elgin, Barrie, William Lockie and Co and Scott and Charters, as well as Borders firms Eribe, Caerlee Mills, Kearse and Boys and Lochcarron.
Hawick MP Michael Moore said: “The Scottish Borders textile industry is world-renowned and produces some of the highest quality textile garments on the market.
“It is a highly skilled industry and the complex machinery and innovative practices require employees to go through years of training and experience.
“This apprenticeship scheme is fantastic and I welcome the opportunity it brings to young people to work in the industry. It will also provide a great boost to these 12 participating Borders textile companies as they benefit from new talent and enthusiasm brought by the apprentices.”
Recruits to the programme will be provided by the Job Centre, Scottish Enterprise will provide organisational support and Skills Development Scotland will provide financial support of up to £4,500 per apprentice. The Scottish Textiles Academic Group (STAG) and Cardonald College will also provide academic support for the trainers, assessors and apprentices.
Hawick MSP Paul Wheelhouse gave the scheme his full backing. He added: “Not only will the companies have a future workforce but they are providing the communities they work in with a unique opportunity.
“We are always hearing about the negative impact of job losses on our young people and here we have a brilliant example of what can be done with effective apprenticeship schemes.”
During the last week of October, STAG began training the 20 trainers and 10 assessors necessary for the association to take on its first 50 apprentices, who are currently being recruited.
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