Long-term worry over textile school job cuts

Nick Bannerman
Nick Bannerman

A TEXTILE manufacturing boss has expressed concern at the prospective impact of staff redundancies at a nearby training school for industry professionals.

Reports this week suggest a quarter of employees – ten from a staff of 40 – could be made redundant as part of cost-cutting measures at the Heriot-Watt school of textiles and design, based at the Borders College campus in Galashiels.

Nick Bannerman, managing director of Johnston’s of Elgin, whose Hawick-based operation employs graduates of the school, said there was a worry at the potential impact on the industry of redundancies at the school.

“If there were fewer courses and graduates, that would obviously have an impact in the longer term,” said Mr Bannerman.

“The school of design is valuable and well thought-of in the industry and we have one or two from the school of design in our team. While the school produces designers very valuable to the industry, equally valuable is skilled staff who are able to produce quality products, and those skills aren’t taught at the school of design.”

Mr Bannerman added that any danger to the long-term future of the school, located in the heartland of textile manufacturing, could jeopardise the industry.

“If the longer-term plan was to close it, that would be very damaging to the industry but also for others looking to come into the industry. They need to know there will be jobs here and to have that local institution is very important for companies like ours.”

The Hawick News understands that any imminent cuts would not be on such a scale that would affect the textile industry in the short term. The town will, in any case, retain its apprenticeship scheme in co-operation with local mills. House of Cheviot’s Robin Deas, who helped launch the initiative, says Borders College and Heriot-Watt may have benefited from accepting an invitation to contribute to the training of “grassroots” workers.

He said: “Personally, I was a little sorry that we didn’t have the means to cover the opportunity through either of the local institutions. They were already programmed to dealing with design and innovation rather than training young people in manufacturing.”