SKILLS which helped build the industrial Borders are to be revived at a new textiles school in Hawick.

Funding has been secured to open the Centre of Excellence in Textiles at Hawick High School this spring.

It is hoped the new training academy will revive many of the skills required to keep the knitwear, tweed and hosiery industries alive.

Business councillor Mark Rowley told us: “Creating the new centre in the town’s High School is an important step in making closer links between the education of the young people of Hawick and the surrounding area and a thriving business sector which is in need of skilled employees.

"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.

"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.”

In addition to training a new workforce, the centre will also provide training to the town’s current textiles and knitwear workforce, with upskilling opportunities as well as advancing leadership and management skills.

The project, awarded £610,000 from the Scottish Government via the South of Scotland Economic Partnership last year, is led by Scottish Borders Council, with partners including Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Local textile and knitwear manufacturing businesses are also integral to the project.

David Hamilton of Johnstons of Elgin said: “The future of the textiles and knitwear industry is inextricably linked with young people and locating the Centre of Excellence at Hawick High School makes perfect sense.

"Whilst young people are a key element for the success of textiles, we must not forget future trainees, and employees, can be of any age and therefore applications will be welcome from all age groups.

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

"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.”

The first intake of trainees is currently being arranged through the Department of Work and Pensions, Developing the Young Workforce Borders, Hawick High School and local employers.