The four-week course is training 15 young people, aged 18 and over, in areas including whisky heritage and production, licensing law, and consumer buying experience.
The course will include a visit to the Glenkinchie Distillery, East Lothian and Diageo’s Leven packaging plant.
It is one of a series of courses in Diageo’s Learning for Life initiative, with programmes in manufacturing and entrepreneurship to be launched later this year.
Peter Lederer, Director, Diageo in Scotland, told BeverageDaily.com the company’s involvement includes creating the curriculum for the programme, setting the criteria for recruitment, and offering experts as mentors.
Future courses are likely to use Diageo’s Scottish facilities, such as bottling plants and distilleries, as locations for training.
“It’s about getting young people into work,” he said. “Some of those people have some difficulties getting into work, they might need interview skills or CV skills. And it gives them opportunities that, for all sorts of reasons, they may not have had.”
The Learning for Life initiative was started in South America and the Caribbean in 2008, and Scotland is the first European country to run the programme. Diageo plans to roll out the initiative globally.
Scotch whisky expansion
The £5m Scottish programme was launched earlier this year as part of Diageo’s £1bn Scotch whisky expansion to increase the company’s distilling and warehousing capacity in Scotland (which was announced in 2012).
“There’s a real mix [of trainees], some have been through school and not connected with what they want to do, some young people have not had role models, or no one’s explained or told them how to get a job,” he said.
“It might be simple things like looking people in the eye, shaking hands, but no one’s ever explained that to them.
“We’re really looking for people who want to get into work and want help to do this. As a company globally, we’re concerned about opportunities for young people. We’re concerned it’s more difficult for young people to prepare for work and get into work.”
Diageo is a global beverage company whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Smirnoff Baileys and Guinness.
Programmes are run in conjunction with specialist partners, and the whisky retail training course is being delivered by the Scotch Whisky Experience and The Prince’s Trust.