EMPLOYMENT Minister Jamie Hepburn was in the Borders last week.

And he was given the rundown on one major success story in the fight against youth unemployment which is flowing out of Kelso.

The MSP visited leading water treatment manufacturers Scotmas Limited as part of his summer tour of Developing the Young Workforce regional groups.

He learned of investments which were helping develop the company's young workforce.

The Minister for Employability and Training said: “It was fantastic to visit Developing the Young Workforce Borders group and see how it is working to close the gap in youth unemployment in the area.

"The group is providing young people with vocational learning options and making sure employers like Scotmas are working with schools to encourage enterprise and business skills from an early point.

"We are committed to increasing Modern Apprenticeships starts to 30,000 by 2020 and are investing funding in skills, training and workforce development measures which have been developed and designed to suit the needs of employers.

"It’s great to see Scotmas recognising the benefits of this approach by taking on graduate level Apprentices which will provide people with opportunities to take on degree-level courses while they are working.”

Developing the Young Workforce is the Scottish government’s national strategy for strengthening links between businesses and education with the headline aim of reducing youth unemployment by 40 per cent by 2021.

The strategy in the Borders group, based at Ettrick Riverside in Selkirk, launched in January of this year.

Scotmas MD Alistair Cameron told the Border Telegraph: “As a rapidly growing business within the Borders, it has been absolutely essential for us to engage with schools across the region to identify and engage with new talent that will help drive forward all parts of our business.

"Although a small business, we are proud to already host three modern apprentices, and are excited to have two new graduate apprenticeships starting within the next month."

Graduate apprenticeships provide the opportunity to earn while you learn for university students.

Working in partnership with local schools and the Developing Young Workforce Borders regional group, Scotmas is helping pioneer new approaches to apprenticeships in the chemical and life sciences sector.

DYW Borders chairman, Nick Bannerman added “The Developing Young Workforce initiative is gathering tremendous momentum across Scotland with our work in the Borders being especially significant.

"With a focus on engaging our local businesses and partnering them with our region’s schools, we are creating a truly exciting opportunity to help our youngsters find the jobs they want while living here and at the same time helping to future proof businesses across all sectors by increasing awareness of the amazing career opportunities they can offer our Borders youngsters.

"Scotmas is a great example of a rapidly growing, prosperous family run business operating in an exciting, innovative market that science students across the region will now be aware of."