New chapter in learning for West Dunbartonshire unemployed

Over 100 disadvantaged young people in the area are getting the chance to work towards a new heritage conservation qualification on canal college over the next three years.

Students on canal college in West Dunbartonshire assembled along the Forth & Clyde Canal with Provost William Hendrie to celebrate the first ever programme in the area.

canal college® is Scottish Waterways Trust’s new flagship employability and training initiative aimed at getting disadvantaged 16-30 year olds into work and is now up and running in West Dunbartonshire.

Offering almost exclusively outdoor, hands on learning, the students will work on projects along the Forth & Clyde Canal, which will count towards a new SQA Level 2 in Cultural Heritage. The 14 week course centres on developing traditional heritage and conservation skills.

There is no other skills and training programme offering young people the opportunities that canal college can and we are delighted to be expanding it to the West Dunbartonshire

said Scottish Waterways Trust Chief Executive, Karen Moore.

Young people with more than one barrier to employment is a key group identified in the Scottish Government’s ‘Developing the Young Workforce – Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy’ and canal college specifically addresses the needs of this demographic.

This pioneering programme will ensure that young people coming through the course will have the improved core life skills and the confidence that will enable them to move into a positive employment or educational outcome.

Results from our pilot show that 70% of young people who completed the course achieve this and I’m confident we can replicate this success as the national programme rolls out.

As well as the new SQA in Cultural Heritage participants will also work towards a Saltire Award, John Muir Award, Volunteer Award and SQA Level 5 Working Safely Award.

Not only will canal college place hundreds of young people on a pathway to learning and work, the conservation projects they will undertake as part of their learning will help bring Scotland’s canal network to life

said Karen.

Majority funding for the college comes from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, Lucy Casot said:

We are delighted that canal college has recognised that there is huge potential for our heritage to provide outdoor learning. Thanks to players of the National Lottery, the canals will provide powerful and memorable experiences for these young people enabling many of them to achieve qualifications for the first time.

Their newly-learned skills will not only make a great difference to their own lives but will play an important part in looking after Scotland’s canal network.

Provost William Hendrie added:

The Council welcomes this new initiative which will help provide vital skills and training to our younger residents. The skills gained during the course along with the recognised qualification earned on completion, will stand them in good stead for finding further training and hopefully employment. This is a great opportunity for young people in West Dunbartonshire and I wish Scottish Waterways Trust every success with their new venture.

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

Anyone in West Dunbartonshire interested in getting involved in canal college either as a student or as a volunteer mentor should contact Lesley Scullion on 07789 941266 or



• SWT creates brighter futures for people, wildlife and communities across Scotland’s canals
• By connecting people with the heritage, wildlife and green open spaces of the Scottish canals, SWT inspires people to get active, improve their health and mental well-being, employment prospects and community life.
• 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.

Find out more at or @ScotlandsCanals


• From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players’ money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about.
• Please contact Shiona Mackay on 01786 870638/07779 142890 ( or Jon Williams on 0207 591 6035 (

• Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for 251 bridges, 212 buildings, 256 locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and 19 water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day
• The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
• Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles. The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year
• For more information, visit or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter