Hands up if you’d like to attend canal college?!

Thursday, 13th April 2017

What a great idea; a college that is based on one of our most valuable outdoor assets - the Caledonian Canal.

Launched in Inverness on Monday 10th April, in partnership between Scottish Waterways trust & Barnardo’s, canal college is an innovative flagship employability programme which is 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 receive awards and certificates to help them on the path to work.

Local people get involved as volunteer mentors and use their skills and experiences to guide young people - learning some new skills themselves along the way!  The aim is to inspire our young people to create a brighter future for themselves through a fun, positive and exciting experience.

The 14-week programme will start in May 2017 and, while a first for the Highland area, the programme has already been run on the waterways in and around Falkirk since 2014.

A genuinely fantastic idea, and launch was only half of the story.  The venue for the launch was the MV Lord of the Glens, based in the Muirtown basin, which then took a short cruise through the Muirtown locks.

Add in a lovely spring morning and an opportunity to network with a mix of local employers and some young people who were hopefully inspired to sign up to the canal college programme.

 Overall, a brilliant way to start to the week for everyone, I suspect.

The partnership with Barnardo’s is an important one and the attendees had the opportunity to hear from the owner of the Lord of the Glens, Philip Morrell. As well as entertaining us with the story of the Lord’s arrival on the Caledonian Canal, Philip explained that he has a very personal connection with Barnardo’s as he was once a Barnardo boy himself. Hearing about his life experience was very inspirational and hugely encouraging, particularly upon hearing how, as a young man he clearly used his background to his advantage. Philip provided a positive message for all but in particular for the young people who are just at the start of their life’s journey.

The décor and accommodation on board was stunning, and the service and attention to detail from the crew was outstanding.  It’s no surprise that the Lord of the Glens is in high demand – and an asset to the Highlands, too.

So, the last word goes to the college; a unique opportunity to learn traditional skills, culture and history which will set the students on the (tow) path to a great career.

Further information on canal college can be found on the Scottish Waterways website