• A high percentage of the populous of the Borders Railway catchment area reach elevated educational attainment across secondary, further and higher education levels, providing a ready workforce for new and growing businesses.
  • Seventy-nine per cent of people aged 16-64 have the equivalent of five or more GCSEs at grades A-C or above, with 51 per cent being educated to degree level or higher.
  • Edinburgh has the most skilled workforce of any major city in the UK, with 58% of the population being educated to degree level or above in 2017.
  • In statistics published by the Scottish Government, all three Borders Railway authorities score 90% plus in the category of ‘Positive Destination’ for School leavers in the academic year 2014/15, and lie within the top 20 education areas in the country for that category.


There are already many Major employers across the Borders Railway area who recognise the talented workforce available to them:



  • The combined population of the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh in 2016 was 709,810, including a working-age population of 482,560
  • The population of the railway corridor area was 156,787 in 2015 and included a working-age population of 98,001.
  • The combined population across the area is set to increase by an average of 7.6% by 2026  .

Higher Education

The area boasts four universities offering a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses:

Scottish Borders and Edinburgh lie in the top ten of the Scottish Government’s published table for the number of school leavers entering Higher Education in the academic year 2014/15.

As well as an extensive range of academic courses, ranging from astrophysics to zoology, the universities (and further education colleges) offer specialisms in local growth industries, including life sciences, food and drink and textiles.

Further Education

  • Borders College and Edinburgh College have 5,030 students (enrolled in 2016-17) and 21,144 students (enrolled in 2016-17) respectively. Both colleges have provided new campus facilities in close proximity to Borders Railway Stations, at Galashiels and Eskbank respectively
  • Borders College also hosts Heriot-Watt University’s world-renowned School of Textiles and Design. Borders College is reaping the rewards of the new transport link with a significant increase in applications to the college of 74% in the 2016/17 period compared to the previous year from people living in the Mid and East Lothian areas
  • In 2017-18, between 73 and 81% of those taking Modern Apprenticeships in the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh completed the programme, fostering a plentiful supply of job ready candidates

Borders College Business Development Unit

The Business Development Unit (formerly BC Consultants) is a single point of contact providing practical help and advice for employers to enable them to develop the skills of their employees, including training in customer service and management.

The major strength of the unit is in the team of industry specialists who work with organisations to identify the most appropriate learning route for employees and offer a full range of interventions from short courses to certificated work based learning.

The unit develops bespoke training solutions with customers to provide the training required to assist in business growth and product development.

Borders College

Much has been written about the economic benefits of the reopening of the Borders Railway to the local economy.

Borders College based in Galashiels is also reaping the rewards of the new transport link with an increase in applications to the College of 74% in the 2016/17 period compared to the previous year from people living in the mid and east Lothian areas.

College staff are now liaising with an increased number of Schools and Careers advisors in the area and have attended several events to promote the range of courses on offer.

As well as providing students with greater choice for their future development, the skills and career paths provided by better access to higher education providers are essential for strengthening the local economy.

Borders Railway has helped the college to attract talent from across the region who previously wouldn’t have considered it an option due to long travel times.

Take a look at our written case study to read about some student success stories!