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Press release

Launch marks first Hospitality and Tourism Academy in Scotland

Today, (20 August) sees the launch of Scotland’s first dedicated Hospitality and Tourism Academy for secondary school pupils.

The East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy is an innovative partnership involving Queen Margaret University, Jewel & Esk College, East Lothian Council and a number of hotel groups.

The initiative, which will involve students from three East Lothian secondary schools, aims to raise the profile of the hospitality and tourism industries and expose young people to the tremendous wealth of career options which exist providing a range of education and work experience opportunities. 

The partnership organisations are responding to the Scottish Government agenda of kick starting employment opportunities for young people and streamlining the transition between school, college, university and work. Importantly, the Academy also aims to raise standards across the hospitality and tourism industries by providing young people with the appropriate skills and attitudes to meet employer needs.

Professor Alan Gilloran, Vice Principal (Academic) at Queen Margaret University, explained: “Hospitality and tourism are critical to the Scottish economy.  In some areas of the country hospitality and tourism standards are excellent. Scotland has wonderful food, a stunning landscape and a rich cultural heritage, but all too often we let ourselves down with our service delivery. If Scotland wants to be a world-class tourism destination, we need to equip a new generation of young people with the right skills and a fresh approach. Through the Academy, we will promote the attitude that service excellence is the only acceptable standard.”

Thirty-eight pupils from Musselburgh Grammar School, Preston Lodge High School (Prestonpans) and Ross High School (Tranent) will be the first to take part in the new Academy. They will have the unique opportunity of accessing academic knowledge and practical skills in ways that will equip them with the best chance of securing the best jobs.

Ray McCowan, Director of Curriculum, Strategy & Academic Planning at Jewel & Esk College, explained: “Most young people and their parents don’t view the hospitality and tourism industries as a first destination career choice – it’s more often a stop-gap job until something better comes along. We might hear of the ‘straight A’ pupil who aspires to being a doctor or a lawyer, but it’s not often that young people specify they want to be an event, restaurant or hotel manager or even a hotel receptionist. The Academy partners want to increase awareness of the full range of roles within the industries, as well as the career progression, transferable skills and travel opportunities.”

Entry to the Academy is competitive, with places available for not just the high achievers, but with opportunities for a much wider group of talented young people. Pupils will experience a two-year programme with the option to attain either a Hospitality & Tourism Industry Award or a Hospitality & Tourism Management Award. If the pupils successfully complete the programme they will be able to progress to employment or into a course at college or university.

Shamin Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Education, East Lothian Council , said: ”In today’s climate, young people need to leave school with more than qualifications.  They need skills for learning, life and work which - in today’s competitive climate – employers are increasingly demanding.  Using feedback from our industry partners, the Project Team has built a curriculum which includes employability skills, certificates, relevant and high quality work experience and business mentoring as well as gaining more traditional qualifications. The shared teaching with our partners at QMU and JEC also allows young people to experience college and university whilst still at school which will raise their aspirations and enable them to make educated career choices which are right for them as individuals.”

Backing the project are some of the world’s most significant industry players – Marriott and Novotel have signed up as business partners, as have Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, Jurys Inn, Mercure and Best Western Edinburgh Capital Hotel. Representing the local market, one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious hotel organisations, Prestonfield, has pledged support, as well as Fraser Suites Edinburgh.

Ray McCowan continued: “We are delighted that some of Scotland’s most prominent hoteliers, as well as the international hotel groups, are working with the Academy. Their contribution in offering industry knowledge will be invaluable. They are also vital in helping us bring the hospitality and tourism industries to life for the young people. By offering work placements and providing industry professionals to speak about their roles, they play an important part in inspiring and informing pupils about the opportunities in, and scale of, the hospitality and tourism industries, not only in Scotland but also globally.”

The East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy will also address the growing problem faced by many Scottish businesses which struggle to recruit local people with the right skills and attitudes to meet their needs.

Patricia Rainey, Cluster Director of HR at Marriott Hotels, said:  “Hospitality and Tourism are growth sectors in the economy and need the best and brightest talent to satisfy the demand. There are excellent opportunities in our industry to grow and develop careers for our young people, whether through an academic route or from the ground floor up. Marriott has an absolute commitment to attracting and recruiting the best talent and that is why the fit is so good. As an employer we offer learning and development opportunities to young people and at the same time benefit from them practising these skills in our business. The Academy presents a great business model and one in which we are proud to be a partner.”

Professor Alan Gilloran said: “The Academy represents partnership working at its very best. It brings together the vision of two educational organisations and a local council, as well as harnessing industry expertise and responding to very real social, economic and business needs.”

Damien Yeates, Chief Executive of Skills Development Scotland (SDS), said: “We know thousands of jobs will be created in Scotland’s vital hospitality and tourism industry in the coming years. By offering training and work experience to young people at this crucial stage in their life, East Lothian Academy is not only helping to build lasting careers but is also providing the skilled workforce businesses will need to meet future demand.”

Professor Gilloran concluded: “Thriving hospitality and tourism industries are critical to Scotland’s economic growth and to bolstering employment opportunities for our younger generation. These industries are our shop window to the world and we need to secure talented young people to work in them and help sell our country to visitors. The Academy will not only prepare them for this challenge, but will offer these students a brighter future.”


Notes to editor

For further information about the East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy visit: www.hospitalityandtouris

 For further media information please contact Lynne Russell, Press and PR Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 474 0000, mob: 07711 011239, Email:



last modified 18/11/11 Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh EH21 6UU - Tel: +44 (0)131 474 0000
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