Latest wave of canal college® students celebrate success across the country

Young people across Scotland celebrated their achievements after completing pioneering employability programme canal college® this week.

On the 14-week programme, which runs in Inverness, Falkirk and West Dunbartonshire, young people aged 16-30 boosted their skills through a range of hands-on projects which enhance the built, natural and cultural heritage of Scotland’s canal network.

Scotland’s newest college, canal college, is led by Scotland’s only national waterways charity Scottish Waterways Trust. The programme is helping young people into work through real projects outdoors on the Forth & Clyde, Union and Caledonian Canals two days per week.

Young people from programme two showcased their achievements to friends, family and support workers at the celebration events.

The groups worked on a range of waterways projects across the country including repairs to a Thomas Telford-built Weir in Inverness, a 200-year old Weir in Falkirk and a shallow archaeological excavation of the former site of Victoria Foundry in Glasgow.

By taking part in practical waterways projects, young people are learning new skills as well working towards CV-boosting awards and certificates including an SQA Level 2 in Cultural Heritage.

Scottish Waterways Trust aims to help 360 young people across Scotland into work by 2020 through canal college.

The third 14-week canal college programme begins in January. To find out more about the programme, join or support visit

Connor, a canal college learner from Falkirk, said:

canal college has been really helpful and has made a big difference in my life. Being part of a group and working with others has helped me build confidence up. I never had confidence and was scared of working with people I’d never met, but joining the course has helped me believe in myself more and I have better social skills. It was all great experience for me. Now, I’d like to join college and I’m going to apply to a bricklaying course.”

Karen Moore, Chief Executive of Scottish Waterways Trust, said:

“Scotland’s canals are national treasures and are the perfect place for us to provide unique heritage learning opportunities for young people who need our support.

As canal college is delivered almost entirely outdoors, we’re able to unlock the many benefits our canals have to offer. The programme appeals to young people who may have been disengaged from traditional learning environments and offers them a new way of learning.

As well as working towards SQA accredited qualifications and building the confidence they need to move forward, canal college students are safeguarding the nation’s 200-year-old canal heritage for years to come, leaving a lasting legacy for canalside communities which is fantastic to see.”

Richard Millar, Director of Infrastructure at Scottish Canals, said: “We are exceptionally proud to support canal college.

“Scotland’s canals are incredible assets that provide a wealth of opportunities for our young people to learn new skills while helping to care for their unique environments.

“From safeguarding the future of a 200-year-old weir that raises the water level of Loch Ness by more than a metre to uncovering the lost stories of a canalside foundry, the work that canal college has undertaken has made an amazing difference to that rich built heritage. We wish the students all the best for the future.”

  • 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 National Third Sector Fund up until 2020. In the Highlands, canal college is delivered in partnership with Barnardo’s Works
  • contact or 01324 677817 for more information