New College Lanarkshire is working with sustainable fashion company ACS Clothing to deliver an innovative new training programme that's building on Scotland’s efforts to create a circular economy.
The Pathways to Textile Care and Warehousing course is delivered by NCL’s Access and Progression department in conjunction with ACS and both North and South Lanarkshire councils.
The course aims to provide training opportunities to increase employment pathways, particularly for young people with additional support needs, while at the same time contributing to Scotland’s drive to reduce carbon emissions.
Through undertaking a live work placement at ACS’s state-of-the-art warehouse at Eurocentral, the students enrolled in the programme are learning skills and knowledge to prepare them for a career in warehousing, logistics or sustainable fashion.
Since it was founded in 1997, ACS (Advanced Clothing Solutions) has grown to encompass more than 150 employees delivering a cleaning, packing, distribution and garment refurbishment service for well-known fashion brands.
Its 85,000-sqft facility at Eurocentral boasts ultramodern garment handling technology to extend the life of clothing, ranging from men’s formal wear and kilt hire companies to retailers such as LK Bennett, ASOS and Next.
Nine students from our Cumbernauld Campus receive support from an employability job coach from North Lanarkshire Council, while a further seven students from our Motherwell Campus are supported by a job coach from South Lanarkshire Council.
The full-time, one-year course has a strong vocational theme, with students working towards achieving a SVQ qualification (at SCQF Level 5) in either Warehousing or Textile Care, in addition to gaining qualifications in First Aid and Health & Safety.
Nicola Mulholland, Dean for Academic Partnerships at New College Lanarkshire, said: “This is a fantastic partnership, providing the very best in education and work experience opportunities to prepare young people with additional support needs for the workplace.
“I am very grateful to all those at ACS who are working with us to help our students, and a special thanks to Michael Cusack for his continued enthusiasm for this initiative.
“Additionally, I would like to thank our colleagues in both local authorities for supporting this project from an employability perspective. This programme really shows what we can achieve when we all work together.”
As part of the induction to the course and work placements, ACS funded a four-day GRIT (Growth, Resilience, Independence and Trust) programme at Dumfries House in Cumnock in October 2021 to enhance the confidence of students and encourage them to build cross-campus friendships.
Monique Lerpiniere, People Development Coordinator at ACS, said: “When the Pathways project was first conceptualised, I thought it had great potential. Today, opportunities for young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are limited.
“New College Lanarkshire’s willingness to collaborate with ACS allowed us to create a bespoke training opportunity that will not only help young people grow in confidence and learn new skills but, most importantly, prepare them for the world of work.
“The response from the students and ACS staff alike has been overwhelmingly positive. I have seen students who once lacked certainty in their future career prospects make long-lasting friendships and pick up invaluable employability skills.
“The project will only improve over time and can make a real difference to renewing a young person’s sense of purpose.”
Job coaches from the respective councils support students on placement at ACS, in addition to helping students plan for their transition to employment on completion of the course.
Gail McKee, Supported Employment Co-ordinator at North Lanarkshire Council, said: “Working in partnership with ACS and NCL to support with this exciting new course has been an amazing experience. We have enjoyed watching the students grow in confidence and develop skills that they didn’t believe was possible.
“The students are now operating steam presses and irons, learning about textiles and circular operations, as well as gaining valuable experience working in the warehouse. We look forward to supporting them further in their journey to find sustainable employment.”
Paula McGinty, Supported Employment Manager at South Lanarkshire Council, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity and a great partnership between ACS Clothing, New College Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Council, creating meaningful work experience and qualifications for young adults with additional support needs and hopefully opening doors to employment and sustaining employment.
“All students currently on the project are thriving and enjoying it. They are finding the benefit of being submerged into a real working environment with employees and are gaining on-the-job skills. There is scope for this new project to grow and become very successful indeed.”
NCL student Ellie Morris said the Pathways to Textile Care and Warehousing course had opened her eyes to the variety of processes involved in warehousing.
Ellie said: “It’s really interesting being here – you get to experience a mix of everything and you’re not sat in one place so you’re constantly keeping your mind active.
“I like the scanning section best – you make sure all the clothes are in the right bag and go and find them if anything is missing. I really enjoy that part.
“And you meet a lot of new people – I’ve made a lot of new friends here, which I didn’t expect. There’s such a mix of people.
“I do like the mix of learning in college and being on placement. It’s good to get out and experience a lot more.”
Applications are being welcomed from prospective students to begin the Pathways to Textile Care and Warehousing course in August. For more information, or to apply, please click on the link below:
For more information on ACS, please visit www.acsclothing.co.uk