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Minister shares vision for Scotland’s tourism industry with students from pioneering academies project

Posted: 30th October 2014

Academies + Fergus Ewing 1Students from a pioneering academy project visited the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 29th October to hear from Scotland’s Minister for Tourism about his aspirations for the future of Scotland’s tourism industry.

Fergus Ewing, The Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism in the Scottish Parliament, has been a big supporter of the highly successful Hospitality and Tourism Academy, a skills development project for school pupils aged between 15 – 18 years old.

The academies project is recognised as a highly successful partnership which is delivering educational and career opportunities for Scotland’s young people. From the onset, the Minister has been keen to help in its success, and since its launch at the Scottish Parliament in 2012, the academies project has grown significantly.

Fergus Ewing invited the academy students to Parliament, giving them an insight into the government’s plans for the future of the hospitality and tourism industry.

In just two years, the acclaimed academies project, spearheaded by Queen Margaret University and Edinburgh College, has grown from 34 young people from three East Lothian schools, to 450 pupils from nearly 50 schools in Edinburgh, East and Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. In 2012, the Hospitality and Tourism Academy led the way for pupils in East Lothian. A year later, three new academies were created – the Creative Industries Academy, the Health and Social Care Academy and the Food Science and Nutrition Academy – and the project was rolled out to schools across four local authority areas.

This summer, 400 new academy students started the two year-long academy programme of learning. The academy, which students commit to over and above their normal school curriculum, is helping them prepare for employment in some of Scotland’s most important growth industries. The thrust of the academies project is to provide young people with a real insight into key growth industries and improve their employability by developing specialist skills and knowledge.

Ray McCowan, Vice Principal at Edinburgh College, said: “A large part of the success of the academies project has been the total buy-in of industry partners, who have been quick to see the benefits for young people and the future availability of a skilled workforce that can help to raise industry standards.

“Fergus Ewing has shared our vision for the Hospitality and Tourism Academy since he hosted the opening reception at the Scottish Parliament in 2012. Two years on, the realities of our vision can be clearly seen with many of the young people now choosing to study towards careers in the Hospitality and Tourism industry or having used their transferrable skills to secure jobs. One of our young academy graduates is now working at the Scottish Parliament!  The opportunity to visit the Scottish Parliament and hear the Minister speak was a significant moment in the academy students’ learning journey.”

Professor Alan Gilloran, Deputy Principal at Queen Margaret University, explained: “All of our academy students are provided with an excellent insight into the industries associated with their academy. Right from the onset, we have enjoyed significant involvement from hotels – major international chains as well as smaller high end local hoteliers – which have provided site visits, industry talks and placement opportunities for our young people.

“We’re delighted that Fergus Ewing was able to host this special event at the Scottish Parliament, which gave Hospitality and Tourism Academy students another perspective into this important growth industry. Aside from providing young people with educational and skills development opportunities, the Hospitality and Tourism Academy aims to raise the aspirations of young people and help them view Scotland’s Hospitality and Tourism industry as a first choice career destination. Fergus’s presentation about his future vision for Scotland’s tourism industry helped to provide young people with a more in depth insight into this important industry and to inspire them about future industry and career opportunities.”

Scotland’s Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Our tourism industry is vitally important to Scotland’s economy, supporting thousands of jobs and generating just over £9 billion in revenue every year.

“With that in mind it is essential that the sector benefits from a highly skilled workforce, and the Hospitality and Tourism Academy is a prime example of a project where young people can learn skills and expertise that the wider industry can ultimately benefit from.

“I was delighted to host academy students at the Scottish Parliament, and I look forward to hearing more about their experiences. Some of the industry’s leading employers have participated in the academy programme and have hailed it as providing the skills and capabilities they need, which is a huge testament to its success.”

The Minister was joined by Hospitality and Tourism Academy students in the first and second year of the academy programme (from S5 and S6 at school), as well as a small group of students who were amongst the first group to graduate from the Hospitality and Tourism Academy this September. Due to their successful completion of the academy programme, these students left school with an HNC in Hospitality. This allowed them to skip their first year at university and move directly into the 2nd year of the BA/BA (Hons) International Hospitality and Tourism at Queen Margaret University. The academies programme also gives students the chance to further their studies by progressing onto a course at Edinburgh College or another university.

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