canal college®

canal college®

canal college® is our innovative flagship employability programme, aimed at young people aged 16-30 who aren’t in further education, training or employment.

Through canal college, young people learn an exciting range of practical heritage skills outdoors and earn awards and certificates to get them on the path to work.

Local people take part as volunteer mentors and use their own skills and experiences to guide young people, learning some new skills themselves along the way.

We aim to inspire our young people to create a brighter future for themselves with a fun, positive and exciting experience.

The 14-week programmes are offered in Falkirk, West Dunbartonshire and Inverness and are free to those taking part. The programme runs two days per week.

canal college helps young people:

  • build confidence
  • experience team-working
  • improve health and wellbeing
  • achieve awards like the John Muir Award and Heritage Hero Award
  • receive SQA accredited training
  • enhance social skills
  • overcome barriers to work and education

Over 70% of young people completing canal college secure work, get into further education or take on a new volunteering role.

Get the latest updates on the canal college blog.

Find out more 

If you would like to refer someone to canal college, or take part yourself, we’d love to have you. Download our canal college trailblazer leaflet for more information.

Become a volunteer mentor 

Are you over 16 years of age with time available to help young people reach their full potential and get on the path to work? If you can spare a day or two a week, join our canal college team as a volunteer mentor.

No specific skills are required to be a canal college mentor and help young people, who haven’t been able to get a job or place in further education, learn a raft of new heritage and environment skills and improve their prospects for a brighter future.

Find out more in our mentor leaflet.

Get involved

The next canal college programmes begin the week of 5th September. If you’re a young person wanting to get involved, or you like the sound of becoming a volunteer mentor, please get in touch!


Nicky MacLennan
01463 725561 / 07789 943108

or call Stephen Wiseman on 07917 676786


Charlie Lyons

07789 942177

or Alan Forrester on 07768 951740

West Dunbartonshire

Lesley Scullion
07789 941266

canal college is supported by Scottish Canals and Mackenzie Construction and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Avondale Environmental through the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund, The Robertson Trust and the European Social Fund up until 2020. In the Highlands, canal college is delivered in partnership with Barnardo’s Works.

canal college was developed in partnership by Scottish Waterways Trust, eCom Scotland, Developing Nation and Archaeology Scotland. 

The canal college story

Successfully securing work, education or a volunteering role.

Green Action 65%
Canal College 72%