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Diageo training course supports Ukrainian refugees access hospitality jobs

The Learning for Life Academy Graduates

LEADING drinks company Diageo is celebrating the graduation of 14 students, including seven Ukrainian refugees, from its award-winning Learning for Life hospitality training programme.

The students have spent six weeks in intensive training at the Learning for Life Academy at Johnnie Walker Princes Street, including work experience at bars and hotels in Edinburgh, honing their skills and preparing for employment in the hospitality industry. 

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The students are the latest graduates of the Learning for Life programme, which is delivered in partnership with Springboard and The Princes Trust. The programme aims to drive recruitment in the hospitality sector and support the long-term prosperity of the industry. 

As well as the seven Ukrainian refugees, the course also included participants from Mexico and India, as well as locals from Edinburgh and the surrounding area, reflecting the aim of bringing greater diversity and inclusion to the Scottish hospitality sector.    

Gillian Dalziel, Learning for Life Programme Manager for Diageo in the UK, said: “At Diageo, we are committed to creating a positive impact within our communities. Learning for Life play an important role allowing us to champion diversity and inclusion, not only in our business, but across the industry. Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, so many people have had to uproot their life and give up careers that they have worked so hard to develop. It has been a real honour to support the participants on this course to develop new skills and build relationships in the Scottish hospitality sector, which has so much to offer those looking for an exciting and rewarding career.”

Delivered through a series of courses that cater to adults at different stages on their journey to employment, the latest cohort have completed the six-week Bartending and Hospitality course which is a blend of face-to-face and digital training, as well as one week work experience with a local employer. As part of their experience students have also completed the Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour tour and visited Glenkinchie Distillery.

Among the graduates, Hanna Korneiko, a Ukrainian refugee who moved to Scotland in August 2022, joined the Edinburgh course in the hope that the course would provide access to employment in Scotland.

Hanna, said: “Back home in Ukraine, I had an established career and a business with my husband, which we ran together. I was also very passionate about fitness and motivating others and so I had decided to become a trainer. When the war began, my husband and I decided that my son and I should leave the country and so I found myself in Scotland, starting from the very beginning.

“My diplomas and achievements from Ukraine mean very little here and when I arrived, I only knew about 10 words in English. I was very afraid that this was going to hold me back from finding work. I was lucky to be introduced to Learning for life which has given me so much confidence in my abilities. The team have shown me that nothing is impossible and after six weeks, I have been offered a job to work at Apex Hotels and my ambition now is to become a hotel manager.” 

Eight of the 14 graduates in Edinburgh have already secured roles with local employers, including Signature Pubs, Apex Hotels, IHG The Kimpton and The George Hotel.

Diageo recently announced a new three-year partnership with Springboard and The Prince’s Trust to deliver Learning for Life Programmes across the UK to help address the chronic skills shortages that the UK hospitality industry. Since launching in the UK in 2014, 5,374 people have participated in the programme over 362 courses.

Chris Gamm, Springboard CEO, said: “Every Learning for Life course has a huge impact on the lives of the trainees that take part, but none more so than this course, in which we’ve provided employability support to Ukrainian refugees with an interest in working in hospitality, many of whom have a language barrier, have experienced trauma and, understandably, suffer with low confidence. Hospitality offers great opportunities to overcome barriers and build a successful career, also to access part-time and flexible shift work, which is important to those with children.”

To find out more about Diageo Learning for Life and how to apply, please visit:

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