Firm look to the future with training centre

L-r, Willie Wood (HR Director of Johnstons of Elgin) with David Hamilton (Operations Director) standing behind a weaving machine
L-r, Willie Wood (HR Director of Johnstons of Elgin) with David Hamilton (Operations Director) standing behind a weaving machine

Knitwear firm Johnstons of Elgin are recruiting six apprentices ahead of the opening of a training centre at their Hawick factory.

The establishment of the training facility at Eastfield Mills will enable apprentices to undertake structured on-the-job training and learn textile skills from Johnstons’ expert team.

Willie Wood, group HR director for Johnstons of Elgin

Willie Wood, group HR director for Johnstons of Elgin

The firm aims to open the centre within the next month.

Willie Wood, group human resources director for Johnstons of Elgin, told The Southern: “When we opened in Hawick we employed eight people and now we have 258 here.

“We recognise the skills of the existing and long-standing employees, but we also need to bring in the next generation.”

The dedicated training space within the Hawick factory will enable the apprentices to learn from skilled craftsmen and women, who will also benefit from trainer and assessor training as part of the programme.

David Hamilton, operations director for Johnstons of Elgin's Hawick mill

David Hamilton, operations director for Johnstons of Elgin's Hawick mill

Mr Wood added: “This is an exciting industry to be in. We are working with some of the world’s leading fashion houses.”

The collaboration with top names in the fashion world also ensures that new skills and techniques are being applied all the time by Johnstons’ workers on the factory floor, as the firm meets the demand for new and innovative designs.

The four areas in which the new apprentices will work is collar linking, body linking, hand sewing and mending.

And as part of the scheme, not only will the apprentices be able to qualify with a Modern Apprenticeship, it will be offered on a ‘learn as you earn’ basis.

Apprentices will learn from Johnstons of Elgin's skilled craftsmen and women

Apprentices will learn from Johnstons of Elgin's skilled craftsmen and women

Mr Wood said that this aspect was particularly important and would offer a very real alternative for young people instead of further or higher education.

He added: “This is a family-owned business and is always looking to the long term, and has always taken the view, not about the next 10 years, but about the next generation.”

The firm invested around £1million into the creation of a visitor centre, cafe and retail outlet at the Hawick site, which was opened in May 2012.