Former students and members of the community came together on Tuesday (20 August) to raise a glass in celebration of the twentieth Diageo Learning for Life programme to run at Ayrshire College.

The award-winning programme has created training and employment opportunities in the hospitality industry for 287 young unemployed people from Ayrshire since it launched in November 2014. In the last year, 70 students have participated in five programmes at Ayrshire College, with 78% of graduates going on to further training or employment.

Delivered in partnership with Ayrshire College, the Diageo Learning for Life bartending and hospitality programme offers unemployed people four weeks of coaching, core employability skills, specialist bartender training, and industry recognised qualifications, followed by a two-week work placement in the hospitality sector. Following completion of the course, graduates are supported as they seek full time employment in the local area.

The milestone of 20 courses in five years was celebrated by local stakeholders, graduates of the programme and hospitality industry leaders at a special event at Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock Campus.

Pauline Scott, Ayrshire College Learner Engagement Officer for Diageo Learning for Life, said:  “We’re very proud to have completed twenty Diageo Learning for Life programmes at Ayrshire College, and look forward to delivering many more in the future. It has been a privilege to be a part of each student’s journey, especially seeing their confidence grow and knowing how far they have all come.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to support unemployed people to enter the hospitality industry, equipping them with sought after qualifications, strong practical skills and increased abilities and ambitions.”

Diageo Learning for Life graduate Frazer Wesencraft from Troon said: “I would strongly recommend anyone who has considered a career in the hospitality industry and has the chance to take part in the Diageo Learning for Life programme to go for it.

“I came out of the course better equipped to pursue a career within the hospitality industry. Since completing the programme, I have become a manager at ASK in Ayr, started competing in cocktail competitions and am now getting the chance to experience the Diageo World Class competition. Without the Diageo Learning for Life programme and the support I’ve received from Ayrshire College, I would never have secured the bar job that I’m now doing.”

Ian Smith, Head of Corporate Relations, Diageo Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate all of the incredible young people who have taken part in the Learning for Life programme in Ayrshire. There are so many inspirational stories of people making really positive steps forward in their lives as a result of the course.

“It is also a great chance to say thank you to the brilliant team at Ayrshire College who have delivered the twenty courses, and thank you to all of the businesses in the area who support Learning for Life by offering work experience and ultimately jobs for the students.”

Over 1,300 unemployed people have graduated from the Diageo Learning for Life programme nationally, with 79% securing long-term employment – a success rate which makes it one of the Scotland’s leading employability schemes.

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