One of the country’s first ‘coffee academies’ has opened in Perthshire, offering training and support to school leavers looking to enter the hospitality sector.
The school has been launched by artisan coffee roastery Glen Lyon, based at Aberfeldy, and was inspired by a successful team up with Breadalbane Academy.
It will offer a three-month mentoring programme to 16 final year pupils from the secondary school, giving them the chance to train to become skilled baristas.
Glen Lyon director Jamie Grant said there is real demand for trained baristas with customer service experience in the industry.
“The Covid pandemic is taking a terrible toll on the confidence and prospects of our younger generation,” he said. “This coffee academy will be dedicated to helping young people from our community on the challenging journey out of school and into work.”
The two-year pilot project will work as an introduction to the coffee industry, which has openings for young people in the international supply chain.
The teens will take part in two internationally accredited courses by the Speciality Coffee Association (SCA), as well as voluntary work placements in local partner cafes.
The coffee academy is supported by local youth charity Project Northern Lights, with financial backing from the Griffin and Calliacher Community Fund, the National Lottery Community Fund and the Basil Death Trust, a charity set up to support educational causes in Highland Perthshire.
David Fox-Pitt, chairman of Project Northern Lights said: “Lockdown has seen increased mental health issues, anxiety and isolation amongst young people.
“We think that this project will boost participant’s confidence, social skills from working in customer service and self-esteem. So it should also have a positive impact on helping young people find their feet coming out of the Covid crisis.”
If successful, the project could be rolled out to more schools.
Monica Young, project officer for Breadalbane Academy said: “Many of our pupils are really excited about getting involved in the speciality coffee industry which has become very attractive to young people in recent years.”
The project was welcomed by local SNP councillor Mike Williamson. “This is a tremendous opportunity that will boost students confidence as they look to take their first steps into employment,” he said.
“I am certain that final year students from across Highland Perthshire will be delighted with the opportunity to be involved in the coffee academy and I am quite sure that places on the course will quickly become over-subscribed.”
In 2019, Glen Lyon Coffee teamed up with Breadalbane Academy pupil Jay Anderson to become one of the first entirely carbon neutral businesses in Scotland.