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Whisky industry toasts learning initiative

Skills Development Scotland has teamed up with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) to provide funding aimed at encouraging an additional 200 whisky workers to gain a Spirit Industry Vocational Qualification (SIVQ).

Celebrating the development, new skills minister Angela Constance paid a festive season visit to the North British Distillery in Edinburgh. The SIVQ has been designed by the Scotch Whisky Association to recognise the expertise of employees across the entire whisky production process – from distilling to bottling.

Supported by the SWA’s 56 member companies, the aim of the SIVQ is to standardise good practice and allow skills to be recognised across the industry – helping employees climb the career ladder and ensuring companies know their staff can perform their duties to high standards.

Health, safety and skills manager at the SWA Alison Galbraith says: “The Scotch whisky industry is a cornerstone of the Scottish economy, worth around £4 billion a year. Over 10,000 people are employed in the sector and it is vital we recognise and capture their skills if this industry is to keep growing. Our intention is to help whisky employees understand how their roles can develop and demonstrate that the industry offers a proper career with the opportunity to learn and grow as their skills improve.”

Angela Constance, minister for skills and lifelong learning, says: “The multi-billion pound Scotch whisky industry is culturally and economically integral to Scotland, employing more than 10,000 people throughout the country. Although the industry continues to grow, it is important that the specialised skills its workforce develops are standardised allowing skills to be transferred and for individuals to build successful careers. That is why I am delighted with the creation of this scheme and I am particularly pleased that it comes as Scotland celebrates the year of food and drink."

On completion of a minimum of eight units, candidates achieve the SIVQ, awarded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

This qualification is level 5 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and is comparable to an SVQ level 2.

Strategic relations manager, food and drink at Skills Development Scotland Gerry McBride says: “While rooted in centuries of tradition, the whisky industry in Scotland is taking huge strides to ensure its workforce is equipped with the skills to meet the demands of the 21st century global economy. The industry takes training very seriously and is showing a real commitment to placing skills at the core of its business.

“The formalising of a qualification which clearly demonstrates the recipients have the skills required by the industry is a significant step forward and shows this is a sector which values its employees.”

The Scotch whisky industry is second only to oil and gas in terms of productivity per employee, with a GVA of over £262,000 - nearly six times as productive as the average Scottish worker.

Companies within the industry are already seeing the benefits from the scheme.

David Rae, MD of the North British Distillery Company, says: “The SIVQ scheme is an important part of skills development within the Scotch whisky industry.  It will develop job knowledge and understanding, and lead to increased workforce motivation. As we continually strive for the best standards in every area of our whisky-making, initiatives like SIVQs only further help us to realise this.”






1 January 2011 - Felicity Murray