From education to employment

Diageo’s Learning for Life programme celebrates decade of success in the UK

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Graeme Dey MSP, Minister for Higher and Further Education, joined the celebration on Wednesday (21 February) at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh

Diageo’s award-winning Learning for Life hospitality industry skills programme last night celebrated its 10th anniversary with a toast to more than 6,000 people who have graduated from the course.

Diageo Learning for Life was launched in Scotland in February 2014 as part of an effort to tackle youth unemployment by creating training and employment opportunities in the hospitality industry.

Since then, more than 2,000 people in communities all over Scotland have gone through the programme, and it has grown into a UK-wide initiative with more than 6,000 people in total graduating over the past decade, equipping a wide range of people who have faced barriers to employment with skills and resources for a career in hospitality.

Over the course of the 10 years, Diageo has invested £1million per year in the programme to ensure high quality training, delivered by hospitality training charity Springboard, resulting in 83% of graduates going on to sustained employment.

Last night (Wednesday 21 February) politicians, hospitality leaders and Learning for Life alumni came together at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh to celebrate the anniversary.

Graeme Dey MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Higher and Further Education, attended the event and acknowledged the contribution Diageo Learning for Life has made to people across Scotland.

Graeme Dey, Minister for Higher and Further Education, commented:

The tenth anniversary marks an important milestone for the Learning for Life programme and I would like to congratulate the thousands of young people who have graduated from the course to work in one of Scotland’s most iconic industries.

“I also want to thank all the employers across the hospitality industry for their involvement in this scheme which has helped to provide life-enhancing opportunities for our workforce of the future.  

“High quality training plays a vital role in unlocking the potential of our young people to the benefit of the wider economy which is why programmes like Learning for Life are so important to future growth.”

Gillian Dalziel, programme manager Learning for Life, Diageo, said:

We are incredibly proud of what Learning for Life has achieved over the last decade. Seeing the programme’s impact on people’s lives has been a privilege, helping them gain new skills and employment opportunities.

“The hospitality industry is still struggling with skills shortages and through programmes like Learning for Life, we are supporting the sector as well as creating opportunities for our graduates.

“We would like to thank our delivery partners and all the amazing pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants that have supported the programme through work experience and ultimately jobs for our graduates.”

The lead delivery partner across the 10 years of the programme has been Springboard, a charity that helps young and unemployed people in the UK to work in the hospitality, leisure, and tourism industries.

Chris Gamm, CEO, Springboard, said:

Springboard is delighted to have worked with Diageo to deliver Learning for Life over the past 10 years. During that time, together we have had an enormous impact futureproofing the hospitality talent pipeline, giving more than 6,000 individuals the skills and opportunities to find work in our fantastic industry.

“Not only has Learning for Life changed thousands of lives over the past decade, it has also given a number of graduates life changing experiences. As part of their courses, trainees have served the great and the good of the golfing world at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014, worked at Barack Obama’s dinner in 2017, gave a cocktail masterclass to Prince Charles HRH in 2021 and met with First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf in 2023.

“Learning for Life has also had a huge impact on Springboard’s reach, moving from one team member delivering the programme in 2014 to 26 people all around the UK today. Thank you to all the team at Diageo.”

The Diageo Learning for Life programme has its roots in Latin America in 2008, where it was launched to help tackle youth unemployment. In 2014 Diageo saw the opportunity to make a similar impact in Scotland and the wider UK, while also elevating hospitality as a career opportunity.

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