The Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster yesterday launched the Diageo Tourism and Hospitality Academy at a special ceremony in La Scala Restaurant at Stormont Hotel, Belfast.

The Academy, modelled on Diageo’s globally acclaimed Learning for Life programme is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and is designed and delivered by Belfast Met, supported by Diageo and is FLU funded by the Department for Employment and Learning to provide real employment opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry for 18-24 year olds.

Speaking at the launch today, Minister Farry said:

“The hospitality sector is one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland and skills development initiatives like this between the public and private sector are hugely encouraging as we look to create employment opportunities for young people.

“The Academy provides a structured route and progression pathway to further education and offers young people the opportunity to gain employment in the growing hospitality and tourism sector and contribute to the growth of our local economy.”

Minister Foster said:

“The Diageo Hospitality and Tourism Academy presents a wonderful opportunity for young people to forge a career in our vibrant hospitality sector. Northern Ireland is renowned for the warmth of our welcome and the first impressions made by those working in our hotels, bars and restaurants go a long way to shaping the experiences of visitors here. Such initiatives are vital as we look to build on our reputation as a first-class visitor destination.”

Welcoming the two ministers, and the programme’s two partners Belfast Met and Visit Belfast, Liam Reid, Corporate Relations Director, Diageo Ireland said,
“Diageo’s Learning for Life programme will provide unemployed people with coaching, core employability skills and specialist bartender training; opening the door to a wide range of exciting career opportunities in the growing Northern Ireland hospitality industry.  I applaud the Department of Employment and Learning and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for their support and commitment in developing this programme to finding meaningful and sustainable solutions to youth unemployment. This truly transformative global programme has the ability to change lives and I am proud that 16 young people in Northern Ireland will get this wonderful opportunity.”

“Belfast Met is pleased to be working with a global company such as Diageo, who endeavour to help others develop skills for life as much as we do. As the largest higher and further education college in Northern Ireland Belfast Met is committed to ensuring that students thrive in their chosen course no matter their background or employment history. Our partnership with Diageo fulfils our ethos towards holistic learning, in which students can gain the best experience possible in order to prepare them for the next steps in their future career.” said Damian Duffy, Belfast Met Director of Business Development and Learner Services.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, welcomed the initiative:  “Belfast’s tourism industry has grown from strength to strength over the last 15 years.  The City’s youthfulness, creative energy and ambition is an asset the industry needs to continue to enhance and support in order to achieve the ambitions of doubling tourism revenue by 2020.

“The Academy underpins our commitment in nurturing young people by providing valuable opportunities for them gain a wide range of work experience within the sector.  Tourism offers a great range of careers and if we are serious about becoming a world-class city break and conference destination we need to invest in opening up credible career opportunities for young people.”

The programme, which is accredited by City and Guilds, will help 16 individuals to develop their skills over a 16 week course involving off-site work experience.  They will gain insight and experience of the hospitality and tourism industry including interview preparation, food and beverage skills, customer care and communications and computer skills. Students will also benefit from ongoing mentoring and assistance to guide them through the training and job application process.  Following completion of the course participants will have three months paid placement with an industry partner.

Partners in the hospitality and tourism industry in which the participants will be gaining work experience include:

•    Lavery’s
•    Pavilion
•    Love and Death Inc
•    Duke of York
•    Harp Bar
•    John Hewitt
•    Kitchen Bar
•    McHugh’s
•    Apartment
•    Visit Belfast


Diageo Learning for Life is a program designed to inspire and transform the lives of people throughout the different communities in which DIAGEO conducts business. With a focus on adult education, the program is implemented in partnership with local educational, governmental, and training organisations. Learning for Life provides tools, training and skills in four key areas related to our industry and value chain: Hospitality, Retail, Entrepreneurship and Bartending.

Diageo is the world’s leading premium drinks business. With its global vision, and local marketing focus, Diageo brings to consumers an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands including Smirnoff, Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Baileys and Tanqueray. Diageo trades in some 180 countries around the world and is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (DEO) and the London Stock Exchange (DGE).

Belfast Metropolitan College is the largest Further and Higher Education College in Northern Ireland and is one of only thirty colleges in the UK to join the influential 157 Group.  Founded in 1906 and with some 37,000 student enrolments, Belfast Met works at a strategic level in providing education, training and skills to enhance individual, community and economic success.

Visit Belfast is a public private sector partnership with 570 members and partners drawn from the wider tourism and hospitality industry who work in a cooperative collegiate way to promote and market Belfast as an International tourism destination of choice for business, leisure and cruise visitors; together with visitor services management role through the operation of the Welcome Centre and two airport TICs.