THE search is on to find the next generation of textiles workers in the Borders.

Up to 16 trainees will be enrolled for the initial class at the new Centre of Excellence in Textiles in Hawick.

The centre has been opened in a bid to prevent critical skills issues in the textiles and knitwear sector being lost.

Following research commissioned by the project steering group into the areas of most demand for local textiles businesses, the first training block will focus on hand finishing and machine skills.

Clive Brown, sales director of Hawick-based Barrie, said: “We are delighted to support the opening of the Centre of Excellence in Textiles and assist with the delivery of this first block of training alongside colleagues from Johnstons of Elgin.

“The industry as a whole in the Scottish Borders is right behind this project, which will help provide school leavers and the unemployed with the basic skills across a range of areas to help them get jobs in the sector, as well as support existing employees with developing their skills further, including in leadership and management.

“Knitwear and textiles have moved on significantly in recent years and many of the businesses in the Scottish Borders are growing and need to bring new people into the industry. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to take the first step towards an exciting new career.”

The Centre of Excellence project 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).

David Martin from Skills Development Scotland, added: “The Centre of Excellence will play a key role in addressing the skills needs of the sector, and the initial research carried out with 27 companies has identified their likely employment opportunities and succession planning requirements over the next five years.

“This initial block of training is an opportunity to target the area of greatest need, and I would encourage anyone who would like to work in knitwear or textiles, or has done so previously and would like to return, to take up the opportunity to get the training that will make them a prime candidate for upcoming employment opportunities."

Anyone interested in the training opportunities should contact centre manager Alistair Young on 01896 622701 or email