A LEADING employer in Langholm says it is grateful to two of the town’s trusts for helping it to train two apprentices.
FTS Dyers was unable to secure funding to help the men through normal apprenticeship funding programmes.
While the company could have funded their training, the Stevenson Trust and Bowman Little Trust stepped in to provide financial support.
Kieren Green has worked for the dyehouse for five years, starting as a packing operative. For two years he has been the main production dyeing operative on the day shift and is responsible for all 17 production dyeing machines.
He has just completed the first year of his foundation textile colouration certificate which is run through the Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC), which is in Bradford.
Nicky Henderson has been there for two years and works in the laboratory. He is involved in all new development work.
This year both have sat two exams and are currently writing essays. The modules were on organic chemistry and chemistry related to textiles.
They both use distance learning with residentials in Bradford every two months.
James Blackburn, dyeing manager, said: “These courses give them the fundamental understanding which they can put into practical use at work.
“It helps them understand how dyes and chemicals interact with the different fibres we use. Although they work in different parts of the business, the knowledge needed is the same.
“We got help from the two trusts to fund the first year of their course. It’s excellent that there are local bodies willing to help businesses here.
“We went to Dumfries and Galloway Chamber of Commerce, the colleges and other funding bodies and had no luck so I want to make the point that we’re really grateful for the trusts’ help.
“We spent the best part of a year looking at lots of funders but were disappointed.”
The dyehouse did not get a textile manufacturing grant because it was told it did not manufacture a product.
There are separate apprenticeship levies in England and Scotland. While the dyehouse is in Scotland, it is owned by an English company.
This meant the English apprenticeship levy was unavailable for a Scottish site but the Scottish levy was unavailable to an English company so neither would fund the training.
James added: “There seems to be money for all kinds of training but doors were closed in our face.”
The dyehouse also had a problem with its engineering apprentice Callum Henderson.
James said they were offered a free place at Dumfries and Galloway College but it was very difficult for apprentices to get to unless they had a car.
He added: “We were offered a place at Carlisle College for him; it has a number of places for cross-border students.
“We enrolled him but then the college pulled out at the last minute. There was a merger between Newcastle and Carlisle colleges so the number of places was cut back.”
James, along with Alistair Little, who started apprenticeships at the same time, are now working towards an associateship of the SDC.
James said: “To get an associateship you have to get your textile colouration certificate, then go through another four
years of exams, sitting seven
“Ali and I are about to start
our second year. On completion, we can register as chartered colourists, the top level in the industry.”