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Springboard To Success With Diageo Learning For Life

Springboard to success with Diageo Learning for Life

IF YOU are interested in helping young people starting out in a career in the licensed trade then you should consider supporting the Diageo Learning for Life initiative which is experiencing significant success with its hospitality and bartender course.

Scotland became the first country in Europe to deliver Learning for Life, Diageo’s global flagship skills training and employability programme run in partnership with The Springboard Charity, the high-profile hospitality industry charity, in 2014.

As Inga McVicar, national programmes manager – Diageo Learning for Life & Special Projects explains, it provides young unemployed people with specialist bartender training as well as core employability skills, opening the door to a wide range of career opportunities in the hospitality industry.

The six-week course consists of four weeks of training in a classroom setting – learning from 10am-5pm, five days a week – followed by two weeks of hands-on “live” training in a local business. “There’s only so much you can teach in the classroom – people need to be out there interacting with real customers and real employers,” says McVicar.

“Our aim is to equip young adults – aged between 18 and 28 – for a career in bartending and hospitality, and there are number of ways we do this,” she continues. “Many of the people who participate face barriers – these range from low self-confidence, maybe someone has experienced long-term unemployment or has no qualifications, they’ve perhaps not done very well at school and have no direction in life.

“It’s really quite a mixed bag,” McVicar points out. “We’ve had graduates on the programme who have got a degree but not found a job, or they’ve decided it’s not for them and want something different. Others might be in supported accommodation. What they do have in common is that they want to learn. A young person doesn’t need to have any previous experience, just a desire to learn and an interest in hospitality and working with people.”

Those completing the programme finish with a number of recognised national qualifications including:

  • Certificate for Personal Licence Holders
  • BIIAB Level 2 Food safety in Catering
  • BIIAB Level 1 Award in Customer and Drinks Service
  • BIIAB Award in Beer & Cellar quality
  • BIIAB Level 1 Wine Service

But as McVicar points out, the scheme is also designed to develop core skills such as timekeeping, communication, teamwork and confidence. “We work with participants to help them learn how to fill out application forms, prepare a CV and cover letter when applying for a job and also prepare them for interviews,” she says. “Then there’s the practical stuff – everything from pulling a pint and carrying trays to table service and dealing with customer complaints. It’s very comprehensive.

“Participants are supported for 12 months after they complete the course and while there is no guarantee of a job they are inspired to pursue a career in the industry having learned that there are many, many opportunities in bartending and front of house. To date, we have trained over 720 young unemployed people, with 82% in employment after they have completed working with us.

“The course works for the young people but also helps create enthusiastic and skilled new employees for the licensed trade.”

As well as offering two-week work placements, businesses are encouraged to make themselves available for industry visits. “People are inspired by others so why not open your doors and show them round, tell them about you and your business, your customers and crucially, what you look for in an employee,” says McVicar.

“Everyone has to start somewhere, even the most successful operators,” she continues. “You can get involved simply by sharing your career journey – if just one young person is inspired by your story you will have a made a valuable contribution to securing the long-term future of the hospitality industry.”

Please contact Inga McVicar at if you would like to participate in an industry visit, offer a two-week training placement, are willing to offer space as a training venue and/or have vacant positions for which The Springboard Charity could recommend graduates from the course.

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