Prof Russel Griggs, chairman of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership, pictured with the successful trainees and their certificates.

The first trainees to attend the Centre of Excellence in Hawick have received their qualifications following a 16-week training block. The six trainees successfully completed courses on hand finishing and machine skills, as well as first aid and two have already secured Modern Apprenticeships within the industry.

The centre has been developed to help address business critical skills issues in the textiles and knitwear sector in the Scottish Borders and was awarded £610,000 from the Scottish Government via the South of Scotland Economic Partnership last year and is led by Scottish Borders Council.

In addition to the involvement of a range of Scottish Borders-based textile and knitwear manufacturers, other project partners include Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The training has been led and assessed by Borders College.

Didier Canivet, Head of Operations, of Hawick-based Barrie Knitwear which has taken on two of the successful trainees, added: “We are delighted to have been involved in this project from the outset and it is already clear that the training opportunities through the centre will be key to providing Barrie Knitwear and other local companies with our employees of the future.”

A new cohort of trainees is now being sought for the next block of training. This is available to young people and those out of work, with the Council’s Employment Support Service and the DWP helping to identify potential candidates.

Anyone interested in the training opportunities available should contact Centre of Excellence in Textiles Manager Alistair Young on 01896 622701 or email alistair.young@scotborders.gov.uk