Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Aileen Campbell, yesterday joined a group of refugees in Glasgow to celebrate their graduation from a trailblazing new hospitality training scheme.

Ms Campbell, whose portfolio includes responsibility for refugee policy in Scotland, presented the refugees with certificates at a special event to celebrate their graduation from the Diageo Learning for Life programme.

Delivered by leading hospitality industry charity, The Springboard Charity, supported by Scottish Refugee Council, the initiative was established to provide specific skills to refugees who are able to take up a new right to work. The graduates all completed the tailored six-week programme at City of Glasgow College, which provided them with access to core employability skills, coaching and specialist bartender training, in addition to four industry recognised qualifications.

The 11 graduates, whose countries of origin include Algeria, Eritrea, Iran, Russia and Sudan, were also able to enhance their English language skills, including putting those skills to test in work experience situations at a number of Glasgow hotels and bars. The graduates will now be supported as they seek full time employment, with The Springboard Charity working to match them to vacancies in the hospitality sector.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said:

“Congratulations to all the graduates of this six-week immersive course in hospitality training. This is a fantastic achievement and the start of an excellent opportunity to take valuable professional skills into the hospitality sector in Scotland.

“This project is an innovative example of how the private sector can play their part in supporting people who have come to Scotland as refugees into employment. Refugees have a wealth of experience and I believe they should be welcomed, supported and integrated into our communities from day one of arrival.”

The graduation event took place at Glasgow’s St Luke’s Music & Arts Venue in Glasgow.

One of the Diageo Learning for Life graduate Neda Nazari, from Iran, said the course had made an enormous difference to her life. She said:

“It was a fantastic new experience for me which improved my confidence as well as my grasp of the English language.

“The programme has opened my eyes to the world of hospitality, which as well as helping me find a job, has also had an impact on my personal life. I've learned lots of information about responsible alcohol service, food hygiene and licensing laws. I now have new knowledge that I can share with my friends.”

Neda is now seeking part-time work in the hospitality sector while she pursues further studies in travel and tourism.

Aileen Keyes, Head of Diageo’s Learning for Life programme in Europe, said:

“We are committed to building thriving communities everywhere we operate around the world and that means including everyone in the community.

“Our Learning for Life programme has created life-changing opportunities for hundreds of unemployed Scots, and we are extremely proud to now be able to extend these opportunities to people who have sought sanctuary here in Scotland. The hospitality industry can offer amazing careers and it is great to see these opportunities being opened up to refugees.”

Inga McVicar, National Head of Employability for The Springboard Charity, said:

“We created a bespoke course to enable time to work with participants on their English language skills, conversational as well as Hospitality industry specific terms; community, culture and employer expectations; as well as providing support to the participants on wide range of additional barriers to employment, including working with partners to help resolve housing and benefits issues.

“The City of Glasgow College has been instrumental in both working with us to identify and invite participants to the course, as well as hosting training sessions, and the Hospitality industry in Glasgow have been fantastic through supporting to provide real life experience of the work place. Our participants have achieved 100% attendance, and have worked extremely hard to make the most of this opportunity. We look forward to them graduating, and working with them to secure full-time employment in our vibrant industry, which in turn will gain them a network of friends and colleagues through Glasgow’s communities.”

The Diageo Learning for Life programme launched in 2014 and has supported over 1,300 unemployed people, but this year marks the first course addressing unemployment with refugees.  85% of Diageo Learning for Life graduates have gone on to further training or employment and 79% securing long-term employment – a success rate which makes it one of Scotland’s leading employability schemes.

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