Celebrating in Hawick
Hawick’s knitwear industry was out in force for yesterday’s award ceremony held at the Town Hall. Paul Wheelhouse MSP joined in the celebrations, presenting certificates of achievement to 31 apprentices who have attained level 2 Modern Apprenticeships in Manufacturing Textiles, 17 who have completed City & Guild Train the Trainer and eight who have completed Assessing in the Workplace training were presented with certificates of achievement.
The event was hosted by Creative Skillset, the Borders Textile Training Group, the Scottish Textiles and Leather Association and the Scottish Textiles Academic Group and marked a significant milestone in revitalising the knitwear industry in the Borders, which had suffered from negative perceptions as a dying industry with unattractive career prospects.
As Hawick Knitwear Manufacturing Director, Ian MacLeod says “There had been no formal recognition of the training that had been taking place in the industry for over 25 years. As a result of the programme we now have a recognised qualification that new recruits go through and let them see that there can be development opportunities for progression. This will make the industry more attractive to the younger generation. It will also give existing staff to chance to up skill there personnel profile by achieving a recognised qualification on either the MA programme or undertake training to become a qualified trainer or assessor.”
By companies coming together and taking a collaborative and proactive approach to the skills issues faced by the industry, the scheme has been an overwhelming success. Over 60 apprentices are now employed by companies across the Borders, including Barrie, Eribe, Hawick Knitwear, Peter Scott, William Lockie & Co and Scott & Charters – and this number could rise to a further 150 apprenticeships this year alone. The success of this scheme also has impact beyond the Borders, with the Scottish Textile Industry Association using it as a model of excellence to roll out across Scotland.
But nothing speaks louder of a vibrant, re-invigorated industry more than the voices of those who have completed their apprenticeships. Over the last year Teresa Stewart has been working in the bodylinking department at Johnstons of Elgin. She commented that “I knew I would enjoy being an apprentice here but I don’t think I realised at the beginning that I would be learning a trade for life and that’s something I really like. I think it’s good for young people to get opportunities like this, where we learn new things and are encouraged and promoted. It gives you a real sense of achievement.”
Congratulations to Teresa and everyone who were awarded their certificates yesterday and we look forward to your woollies keeping us warm for years to come!