All aboard Lord of the Glens for canal college®!

Aboard Lord of the Glens today, partners, funders and young people gathered to discover how canal college will engage with young people, help tackle young unemployment and bring waterways heritage to the fore as it opens in Inverness on Tuesday 9th May for the first time ever.

Our pioneering canal college employability programme is set to open along the Caledonian Canal next month, with two new programmes beginning in Falkirk and West Dunbartonshire the same week.

canal college is our flagship programme designed to help tackle unemployment amongst young people aged between 16 and 30 years who have suffered setbacks in their life and have not been able to secure employment, education or training opportunities. Young participants on the programme typically face multiple barriers to work ranging from learning disabilities and mental health problems such as depression through to chaotic home lives and low self-esteem.

On each 14-week programme, young volunteers will unlock their full potential by gaining a broad range of practical heritage and environment skills whilst working on the historic Caledonian Canal, as well as gaining qualifications and certificates to enhance their future prospects.

We screened our powerful canal college short film, featuring young people from our first programme in the Lowlands, which ran from 2012-2015, and their life-changing stories.

Past canal college participant, Abby, who experienced severe social anxiety before joining the programme, said:

Without learning what I learned at canal college and without being around people and working with them I wouldn’t have been able to make the friends that I have now because it took so long to get to where I am. I really feel that things are looking up. I’m really glad that I did this. It’s made a big change in my life.

As well as gaining new skills and certificates, young participants will find the vital confidence and self-belief needed to create a brighter future for themselves.

Local people will be able to join in and share their life-long skills with the young volunteers as volunteer mentors, learning new skills and learning awards themselves along the way.

Ross Martin, who is the Chair of Scottish Waterways Trust, said:

After two years of planning and fundraising, it is incredible to think that just next month we will be opening canal college in Inverness, Falkirk and West Dunbartonshire to help hundreds of young people unlock their full potential. In Inverness, along the beautiful backdrop of the Caledonian Canal, our young participants will learn a raft of new skills, earn CV-boosting certificates and awards, and build the vital confidence needed to get on the path to a brighter future.

We know from the first canal college project the outstanding contribution our young volunteers make to Scotland’s canals, which are some of the nation’s most fascinating heritage assets.

We look forward to seeing the difference canal college will make to the lives of young people and to Scotland’s built, natural and cultural heritage over the coming three years.

Through a series of topics including tree and vegetation management, stonework, canalside archaeology and trail creation, the young volunteers will improve and enrich the built, cultural and natural heritage of Scotland’s waterways.

Young participants will also be able to gain accredited training and earn CV-boosting certificates including the SVQ Level 2 Certificate in Cultural Heritage, the SVQ Level 2 Unit in Working Safely and the John Muir Award, Saltire Award and Heritage Heroes Award.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along in support of canal college in Inverness and to Lord of the Glens for their generous hospitality.

canal college is supported by Scottish Canals and Mackenzie Construction and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Avondale Environmental through the Landfill Communities Fund, The Robertson Trust and the National Third Sector Fund. In Inverness, canal college has a unique partnership with Barnardo’s Works to recruit, support and signpost young people.

canal college has been developed in partnership with Developing Nation, eCom Scotland, Archaeology Scotland and Scottish Canals.

Find out more about canal college here.