A new national scheme is offering more than 100 disadvantaged young people across Dumbarton and the Vale the opportunity to work towards a new heritage qualification.

The canal college training and work initiative – run by the Scottish Waterways Trust – is aimed at getting disadvantaged 16-30 year olds into work by offering outdoor, hands-on learning on projects around the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The skills learned on the projects will help them towards an SQA Level 2 qualification in Natural Heritage, with the 14-week course focusing on developing “traditional heritage and conservation skills”.

The course will also help students work towards a range of other qualifications, including a Saltire Award, John Muir Award and a Volunteer Award.

West Dunbartonshire Provost William Hendrie said: “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.”

Karen Moore, chief executive of the Scottish Waterways Trust, added: “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.”

“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.”