Weaver Training
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With the success of Harris Tweed Hebrides the industry continues to grow in confidence and strength, despite Mr Haggas’ misadventures. Iain Angus MacKenzie, Chief Executive of Harris Tweed Hebrides in Shawbost, is urging the relevant public bodies to bring forward as quickly as possible the training programme currently being developed for new entrants to weaving. Shawbost’s success has meant that they are now very keen to see new weavers start work as soon as possible to help the mill meet the growing demand, and there is now confidence that steady work will be available for new weavers.



New and existing weavers will soon be able to gain a recognised qualification, an SVQ in Manufacturing Textiles, in recognition of the highly skilled nature of the work and to properly recognise the wealth of knowledge and skills specific to this tradition.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, working in partnership with the Harris Tweed Industry Liason Group, were successful in securing funds from the European Social Fund to implement a range of training packages for the Harris Tweed Industry.

Cardonald College has successfully bid to deliver a Skills Audit and Training Development Programme for Harris Tweed weavers. The scheme will recognize the wealth of knowledge and skills of the existing workforce by awarding Accredited Industry qualifications, while also ensuring that new or recent entrants to the industry meet the standard required to maintain the reputation of Harris Tweed and ensure a prosperous future. Weavers will be visited and assessed at their own homes by experienced weavers recruited by Cardonald to assist in the development of assessment criteria and training materials.

Training for people wishing to work on the Bonas-Griffiths or double-width loom will be provided early in 2010 at a venue in Stornoway. This training will be provided full time for about eight weeks (the finer details are still being discussed). New trainees will also be provided with ongoing support beyond the initial training period - an important factor to help build confidence in new found weaving skills and to help develop knowledge of loom maintenance skills.

Trainees will also be able to attend day courses in business management skills at Lews Castle College for people new to self employment, and these are available free through funding provided by Business Gateway.



Harris Development Limited secured funds back in March 2008 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for training new weavers in Harris on both the Hattersley and the Bonas-Griffith looms. This funding source involves a two stage application process. The application submitted involves nine quite complex projects which required further development works, and match funding had to be secured from a variety of sources for each, before submitting a Stage 2 application, to be submitted at the end of January 2010. The funding for training weavers here in Harris will therefore become available in July/August 2010 and training will begin then.

The proposal for the training to take place in Harris next year is that individual trainees will train with skilled weavers locally one-to-one. Trainees will not have to attend this training on a full day basis, hours can be arranged to suit childcare needs or other part time work for example, in consultation with the weavers who will be delivering the training.

Local weavers have been identified who are willing to provide the training, in a paid capacity, and a Train-the-Trainer Adviser will be working with them to support and advise them on delivering the training effectively. If there are other local weavers, retired or otherwise, who have yet to be contacted, but who might be interested in training new weavers, I am keen to hear from you.

People interested in enrolling in this training or the training to be provided in Stornoway should get in touch with me in the first instance, and we can discuss the various training options and how they might best suit your own circumstances and aspirations.

I am delighted to say that I have already been approached by a number of people who have heard by word-of-mouth that training is in the offing, and I now need to gauge the overall level and nature of the demand to enable us to finalise plans.

I have submitted a funding application to enable Harris Development Limited to buy looms which would be leased to new entrants at a nominal cost. I and staff at Business Gateway and elsewhere will help guide prospective new entrants through the options for funding assistance to help with building a new loom shed, or refurbishing an existing building to suit.

I have submitted a funding application to enable Harris Development Limited to buy looms which would be leased to new entrants at a nominal cost. I and staff at Business Gateway and elsewhere will help guide prospective new entrants through the options for funding assistance to help with building a new loom shed, or refurbishing an existing building to suit.

Joan Cumming, Harris Development Limited, Room 3, The Old Hostel, Tarbert. Tel: 502587
E-mail: joan@isle-of-harris.com

 
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