First class!

Posted on 30/09/2014 by


academyThe first students to complete a groundbreaking project to boost young people’s aspirations and job prospects have been honoured at Edinburgh College’s annual Graduation ceremony. 

School students who took part in the East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy programme joined the college’s graduates at the Usher Hall ceremony to pick up their scrolls and mark their success.

Twenty two school students completed the two-year academy programme, designed to give them education and industry experience while still at school, and six of them attended Edinburgh College’s Graduation on Friday 26 September.

These academy students are in a unique position, having now left sixth year of school while also achieving a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Hospitality. This secures them a place on specific courses at Edinburgh College or allows them to skip first year and move directly into the second year of the BA (Hons) in International Hospitality & Tourism Management at Queen Margaret University.

Fifteen of the students have now gone on to the QMU degree, two have gone to Edinburgh College to study Events and Tourism Management, respectively, three have gone to courses at other universities, and two have gone straight into the workplace.

The East Lothian Hospitality and Tourism Academy launched in 2012 as a partnership between Edinburgh College, Queen Margaret University and East Lothian Council. It was set up to give S5 and S6 pupils the chance to sample further and higher education and work experience while still at school, smoothing the transition into college, university and employment as well as raising aspirations and enhancing employability.

Following the Hospitality and Tourism Academy’s success, three other academies launched last year with a £4.6million award from the Scottish Funding Council, as part of the wider South East Scotland Academies Partnership (SESAP). These were geared towards other industries earmarked as growth areas by the Scottish Government: Health and Social Care; Creative Industries; and Food Science and Nutrition. This expansion brought new partners into the project including an additional 34 schools across south east Scotland and more employers and businesses. The original partners have now been joined by City of Edinburgh, Midlothian and Scottish Borders councils, and Borders College.

The academies work with key industry partners, including Skills Development Scotland and Creative and Cultural Scotland, to allow young people to develop an understanding of the full range of jobs available within these sectors. Working so closely with businesses ensures that the academies are designed to meet their needs and help develop the workforce these growth sectors need to thrive.

This year more than 400 pupils from more than 50 schools in Edinburgh, East and Midlothian, and the Borders have signed up to the academies.

Ray McCowan, vice principal at Edinburgh College, said: “We’re delighted to conclude the journey of the academies’ first students in such a fitting way, alongside our other students in the wonderful surroundings of the Usher Hall. The project would not have been such a success without their enthusiasm and dedication, and they’re a credit to themselves, their schools and the project partners.

“They’re all going on to positive destinations, either to further studies or straight into the workplace, and I know they’re doing so with real passion and determination to succeed. Some of these young people didn’t know what they wanted to do but the academy has opened their eyes to some amazing opportunities they didn’t even know existed before. The academies are successfully creating new opportunities for young people and meeting the needs of industry as well as the government’s priorities for growth. The model is working and it’s great to see them come out the other end with the skills, knowledge and confidence that will benefit them whatever they go on to do.”

Professor Alan Gilloran, Deputy Principal at Queen Margaret University, said: “The academies project is one which is delivering real results for Scotland’s young people and we are delighted to see our first graduating students progress onto the next stage of their educational and career journeys. Not only is the academy experience giving our students a competitive advantage over many of their peer group, it will help contribute positively to the Scottish economy by preparing a new and skilled young workforce to bolster key growth industries. This graduation ceremony is a milestone for the academies project. We are extremely proud of the academy students’ achievements and of the positive outcomes being delivered by this pioneering collaborative project.”

Pictured: Back row: Marisa Kerr, Alice McMillan, Jake Lavery, Holly Harrison, Rosie Allan. Front row: Rachel Scott and Shelby Dalgleish. Hospitality and Tourism Management Academy. HNC Hospitality Management.