South Scotland

Hawick High School to host textile centre of excellence

Hawick High School
Image caption The new centre will be set up at Hawick High School

A textiles centre of excellence is to be created at a secondary school in the Scottish Borders.

It will be set up in Hawick High School to help provide "skilled employees" for an industry which has been a mainstay of the region for centuries.

Scottish Borders Council said it was an "important step" in creating closer links between education and the sector.

David Hamilton, of Johnstons of Elgin, said the location of the centre at a school made "perfect sense."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Borders has a long history in the knitwear and textiles industry

The scheme - being led by the council - was given £610,000 from the Scottish government via the South of Scotland Economic Partnership last year.

A range of other partners and local textile and manufacturing businesses are involved.

A former mill building had previously been earmarked as the location but the secondary school site has now been selected.

Mark Rowley, executive member for business and economic development on the council, said it could help create the workforce needed by the sector.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The centre will provide training in the skills needed by the sector

"The centre of excellence will provide industry skills of all levels, from hand-finishing to business and sales, and for a wide range of people, including school leavers, the long-term unemployed and those who used to work in the industry," he said.

"It is absolutely clear that the growth of the industry in the town, and potential inward investment, is reliant on skilled individuals being available.

"The creation of the centre in the school is a unique opportunity and there are a number of future opportunities that can be exploited by establishing close links between the school and the centre of excellence.

"This is just the start of meeting a large and recognised need and could grow further."

Benefit business

A first intake of trainees is currently being sought with the centre due to open "early in 2019".

Mr Hamilton said applications would be welcome from all age groups and could build on links already in place.

"Johnstons of Elgin already have established very successful relationships with secondary schools in Moray and in Hawick," he said.

"The centre of excellence is something that all Hawick-based businesses in the sector can be actively involved with, and make the most of, for the benefit of their own individual business."

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