Thirty-two individuals from across Scotland are getting the work experience opportunity of a life time as they participate in the 2019 World Class finals, as part of Diageo’s Learning for Life programme.


The world’s largest cocktail competition, taking place over the course of three days (24-26 September) at SWG3 in Glasgow, sees twelve Diageo Learning for Life graduates mixing with some of the world’s leading bartenders to gain valuable experience behind the bar.


On Wednesday 25 September, graduates will be joined by twenty Glasgow students currently taking part in the Diageo Learning for Life programme for a bespoke Ketel One cocktail masterclass. During the masterclass each individual will try their hand at creating cutting edge cocktails. Master class participants will also have the opportunity to meet Ketel One master distiller, Bob Nolet.


The hospitality sector is a key part of Scotland’s economy, directly employing over 200,000 people and providing many opportunities for those with suitable skills. However, significant barriers still exist for individuals trying to get on the jobs ladder, with youth unemployment currently at 10.1 per cent in Scotland. The Diageo Learning for Life programme works to address these barriers, including lack of work experience, insufficient qualifications and poor confidence.


Among the 55 finalists competing in Glasgow are two former Diageo Learning for Life graduates, Cesar Cedeño from Panama and Cheytan Baez from Dominican Republic, who the students were able to meet.


One of the participating Diageo Learning for Life graduates, Paul Filipescu from Glasgow, said that taking part in such a high-profile event is an exciting opportunity. Paul said: “'It is amazing that World Class takes place in Glasgow this year. I am thrilled to be involved and to work with some of the best bartenders in the world. I hope to be able to compete myself at a future event.


So far in my bartending journey, I have learned about the 'cake', and seeing the world champions in action, watching their techniques and learning about their attitudes will be the 'cherry on top'. This will truly be a magical experience!”


Kate Gibson, Director of Diageo in Society, said: “World Class offers a unique opportunity for our Learning for Life graduates to not only showcase their skills at this world-famous event, but it also offers our students, old and new, the chance to learn and be inspired by some of the most revered cocktail mixologists from all corners of the globe.


“At Diageo we are committed to transforming the lives of people throughout the communities in which we operate. World Class is a perfect representation of how we are supporting individuals throughout their careers, from participating in our Learning for Life courses, to working at the World Class finals, to becoming one of the finalists competing.


“The commitment and enthusiasm of our partners The Springboard Charity and Ayrshire College plays a huge part in the ongoing success of the programme. I am exceptionally proud of all those involved.”


The World Class Bartender of the Year competition is the world’s largest bartending competition, with top talent from across the globe competing to be crowned the best bartender. More than 10,000 bartenders from around the world are expected to compete in the 11th edition of the competition.


In addition to those taking part in Scotland, five Learning for Life graduates from Amsterdam took part in the first challenge of the World Class competition on Sunday 22nd September. The challenge, hosted by Ketel One and called ‘better drinking’, saw contestants create a drink using local ingredients in support of a sustainable local community.


Simon Earley, Head of World Class, said: “World Class is all about working with the world’s best bartenders from around the globe to encourage people to care about what, where and how they drink. Only the best talent is invited to compete in the global finals, so we’re delighted to have our current and former Learning for Life participants be a central part of this year’s celebration and provide them with a chance to learn from some of the industry’s top talent.”


The Diageo Learning for Life programme launched in 2014 in Sctoland and has supported over 1,300 unemployed people.  85% of Diageo Learning for Life graduates have gone on to further training or employment and 79% securing long-term employment – a success rate which makes it one of Scotland’s leading employability schemes. Globally the programme has supported 140,000 individuals with typically more than 70% gaining permanent jobs once they have completed the programme.


The Diageo Learning for Life programme is delivered by specialist training partners The Springboard Charity and Ayrshire College.