Mill looks to the future with new training school

Hawick knitwear firm Johnstons are aiming to secure the future of the industry by setting up an innovative new training school, writes Colin Purvis.

The facility will be based at Innerleithen where the company has the space, resources and staff and will not only take Johnstons trainees, but those from other Hawick knitwear firms.

And the company is set to advertise for young apprentices later this summer and the youngsters will spend part of the week training at Innerleithen, and the rest working in the Mansfield Road factory.

Johnstons managing director Nick Bannerman said: “This is an ideal opportunity, not only for us to secure the future of our own business through training but also to the smaller players the chance to have staff trained at our premises.”

The training will focus on the finishing side of the operation and will include linking, mending and sewing.

Youngsters signing up for the government-sponsored Modern Apprenticeship scheme will end up with a recognised industry qualification.

Mr Bannerman continued: “At Johnstons we invest £1million per year in technology and machinery. This new initiative is about people and it is about having the best people on board through training. This really is a good news story. We sat down with other manufacturers and although some are doing their own thing, others are pleased to be part of this and that can only be encouraging for the future.”

Mr Bannerman added that large-scale industry pay-offs in past decades had fostered a feeling amongst many youngsters that knitwear wasn’t a viable career choice, but that is changing.

He added: “In recent years this has changed. We have work to do and we have to encourage youngsters to view what we do he as a good career choice.”