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Canal College

canal college is an ambitious outdoors heritage skills training programme for young people not in employment, further education or training and living within deprived canalside areas in Edinburgh or Falkirk. The programme, running for two years, aims to improve employment prospects for 16-25 year olds furthest from the jobs market and encourage more people to consider the canal as a career path. Volunteers complete the 14 week course on the Forth & Clyde Canal, Union Canal and at The Falkirk Wheel.

Working with Scottish Canals, the organisation responsible for the management and development of Scotland's canals and The Falkirk Wheel, and a wide range of partners, canal college gives young people the chance to build their confidence and gain the skills they need to get on the pathway to work. Young people benefit from valuable employability training and are given the opportunity to work towards a range of CV boosting certificates including Youth Achievement, John Muir, Saltire and in-house canal college awards. The programme fosters a supporting learning environment and inter-generational working through the recruitment of volunteer mentors from local communities.

In learning the vital skills needed to gain employment, participants will leave a lasting legacy for local communities through two canal college ‘signature’ projects. The shallow excavation of a historic lock flight in Falkirk, in partnership with Archaeology Scotland, will provide a new tourist attraction for visitors to the area. The creation of a new garden area and ‘gateway’ onto the Union Canal at Calders, Edinburgh, will encourage more local people to enjoy, explore and engage with the waterways. Other projects canal college work on include vegetation clearance, stonework and lime-mortaring, and the creation of bat boxes and habitats for waterways wildlife.

Further reading

Detailed pilot project definition

Additional information on the pilot

  • More information on canal college on the Scottish Waterways Trust website
  • Regular canal college updates on the Scottish Waterways Trust blog
  • A video celebrating canal college inspiring young people
  • Leaflets produced to give information to young people interested in participating in canal college
  • Leaflets produced to give information to volunteers interested in becoming a canal college mentor, to help young people on the path to work

Media coverage


Pilot theme: