What should I know about hospitality and tourism in Scotland?


Scotland’s hospitality and tourism industry is growing! It is predicted that an additional 14,800 jobs including 4,400 managerial jobs will be created in Scotland by 2017*. The hospitality and tourism sector employs a workforce of 202,700 across 16,400 establishments in Scotland. This amounts to ten per cent of the UK’s hospitality and tourism workforce and makes up eight per cent of Scotland’s working population (one job in every 13).


Hospitality and tourism is a vital component of the Scottish economy. If Scotland wants to be a world-class tourist destination then we need to equip the new generation with the right skills and a fresh approach. The Hospitality and Tourism Academy promotes the attitude that service excellence is the only acceptable standard and aims to develop young people with new practical skills, build their academic knowledge and gain an understanding of the industry.


If you have never considered this a career choice, you might be surprised by the amazing range of jobs that the sector offers. It is a global as well as a local industry, which means that a career in hospitality and tourism could take you across the world.


*State of the Nation 2013 report


NB: State of the Nation 2010 and 2013 are reports produced by the Sector Skills Council for hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism



Hospitality & Tourism Academy

What our students say


What will the Hospitality and Tourism Academy do for me?

The academy provides students with the educational knowledge and relevant work experience needed to prepare them for work in hotel or restaurant management, customer services, marketing and public relations, or events organisation and management.


Your classes for this academy will take place at Queen Margaret University and at either Edinburgh College or Borders College. So you will be in the unique position of being at school, college, and university all at the same time. Not only will you experience both further and higher education, you will also gain valuable work experience and see demonstrations from industry experts.


 You’ll have fun, learn lots of new skills, be able to explore different areas of interests within the academy, meet other young people, and get fascinating insight into the industry. AND you will also gain a qualification.


What happens when I complete this programme?

After completing this programme, you have the possibility of progressing directly to a relevant degree programme at Queen Margaret University or relevant HNC/HND course at either Edinburgh College or Borders College.


What types of jobs are available in Hospitality and Tourism?

Hospitality and tourism provides a wide variety of jobs in areas such as hotel and restaurant management, customer services, tourism visitor attractions, marketing and public relations, human resources and events organisation and management. Opportunities exist in the UK, but the industry offers many possibilities for travel and employment abroad.

Hospitality and Tourism Academy contact:

Jennifer Bingham

Coordinator- Hospitality and Tourism Academy

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh EH 21 6UU

“Scotland’s hospitality and tourism industries not only represent areas of economic growth, they are often Scotland’s shop window to the world which helps attract other business opportunities. Scotland needs its talented young people to work in these industries and sell their country to our visitors. Our Academy will prepare them for this challenge.”


Dr Richard Butt, Deputy Principal, Queen Margaret University

Liam Reilly, 16 years old, 6th year, Ross High School, Tranent, East Lothian


“Even though I already knew I wanted to be a chef, I am now aware of other opportunities within the industry. The practical skills training through the Academy has been amazing. I have even learned how to cook food at the table in front of the diners (flambé).”

Liam has relished all of the experiences he’s had during this first year of the Academy, particularly the practical skills training. He has already applied to Edinburgh College for a place on the Professional Cookery programme to help him realise his dream of becoming a chef.

To Liam’s surprise, his successful completion of year 1 of the Academy guarantees him a place on SVQ 2 Professional Cookery course at Edinburgh College. His Academy membership means his entry to this course is automatic without requiring interview.

He said: “I am so pleased to know that I’ll be accepted for this course, which is the next step in my career. I don’t even have the stress of an interview. I’ve always been interested in food but the Academy has helped me develop my skills in cookery as well as given me an insight into the entire hospitality industry. Even though I already knew I wanted to be a chef, I am now aware of other opportunities within the industry. The practical skills training through the Academy has been amazing. I have even learned how to cook food at the table in front of the diners (flambé) and won a bronze medal in the national culinary championships at the SECC in Glasgow in the restaurant flambé class.




Lauren Cain, former Musselburgh Grammar pupil, now student at Robert Gordon University

Hospitality Academy student Lauren Cain talks about her Academy experience

How did you hear about the Academy and why did you want to become part of it?

I heard about the new project when the Academy coordinator came to our school. She did a presentation about what was involved in the Academy, about the commitment that was expected and what pupils could get out of the project. We had to apply for a place at the Academy. We then had a formal interview at Queen Margaret University before securing our place as an Academy student. It was quite a formal process and we got a letter informing us that we had achieved a place on the Academy.


I thought it sounded really interesting and I didn’t know of anyone else who was involved in a project like this. I thought it was a great opportunity. I already knew a wee bit about the hospitality industry – like food preparation and waitressing – but I didn’t know much beyond that. Now I realise there are loads of different jobs within the industries such as chef, human resources manager (which I’d never heard of before), food and beverage manager and maintenance manager.


What opportunities have you had through the Academy?

Being part of the Academy has given me lots of opportunities. The first big thing that happened was at the Parliamentary Reception, just after the formal launch of the Academy at Musselburgh Grammar. I had the opportunity to speak in front of 100 guests, including MSPs and industry experts, about why I wanted to join the Academy.  It was quite competitive and I had to audition to be one of two students to formally speak at the Scottish Parliament. I addressed the audience standing on the steps where you normally see the MSP media interviews taking place. It was certainly a big deal to me.




I’ve also spent some time at Novotel, one of the Academy’s hotel partners. One of the senior managers gave us a tour of the hotel and introduced us to the maintenance manager, the food and beverage manager and the chef. Each manager made a presentation and chatted about their own career development, described what was involved in their jobs and what they liked best about their roles.


Next we are going to the Point Hotel in Edinburgh to gain experience of working in reception and customer care.


You took part in a ScotHot culinary competition at the SECC in Glasgow. How was that?

I loved taking part in ScotHot. To prepare for the competition we had five rehearsals with the Academy Coordinator. At the competition we had to flambé live in front of an audience. That was terrifying but exciting. None of us had ever done anything like it before. We were competing for half an hour but got to stay at ScotHot at the SECC for the whole day. That gave us the chance to watch lots of other competitions taking place including chefs cooking fish dishes. Fortunately, we didn’t find out until after the competition that we were up against much more experienced people from hotels like Gleneagles. So we were all really chuffed to find out that we were all being awarded with bronze medals.


What was it like attending the ScotHot award ceremony?

It was great going to the award ceremony dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow. It was a wee bit daunting because everyone there looked like they were involved in the industry and then there was the five of us – high school children – but we felt quite special. And we got awarded with a bronze medal and had our photographs taken, so that was fantastic.


Different schools are involved in the Hospitality and Tourism Academy. How has that worked out?

One of the really nice things about being part of the Academy is that I’ve made friends with the pupils from Ross High and Preston Lodge.


So what’s your next move, Lauren?

I’m staying on until 6th year. I’ve chosen to complete the full two years of the Academy and I’m looking forward to learning more. I’m not sure what I want to do when I leave school, but the Academy is definitely giving me ideas about what I might choose to do in the future. I know that because of my time at the Academy, I’ve got options that I wouldn’t have had, had I not taken part. I can safely say that there is a big chance that I’ll end up working in the hospitality and tourism industry.



Rachel Scott, Musselburgh Grammar School, Hospitality and Tourism Academy

Rachel Scott first heard about the Hospitality and Tourism Academy during an assembly at her high school and was amazed when teachers described the choice of jobs on offer within the hospitality industry. Rachel explained: “When I heard about the careers choices, I felt this would be a great opportunity to try out different things and explore what I enjoy doing. I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career and never intended entering Hospitality and Tourism before my time at the academy.” Rachel discovered her passion for events during the first year of the academy programme. She realised events was an area she wanted to pursue after organising a school lunch. This involved Rachel and her team arranging everything from ordering and cooking the food, to sending out invites. She enjoyed her academy experience so much that she completed the full two years of the academy programme.
Her involvement with the academy helped her secure a place at Edinburgh College where she went on to successfully complete a HNC Events. This allowed Rachel direct entry into her second year at Queen Margaret University, where she now studies BA (hons) Events Management. Commenting on her experience in the academy, Rachel said: “I loved getting the chance to pull together an event from scratch. It was hard work and nerve-wracking but I decided this is what I wanted to do.” She continued, “Throughout my time at the academy we learned different aspects of the Hospitality and Tourism industry. We visited hotels, provided table service, studied theory, created work for our portfolios, organised events, learned about tourism and was given hands–on experience in the kitchen. “One of my favourite experiences was creating my own menu which helped me understand a chef’s role in the kitchen. This involved selecting the ingredients, learning how to cook the food perfectly and then teaching these techniques to other students. This was tricky as I knew exactly what I wanted to cook, but I had to consider dietary requirements and ensure a vegetarian option was available.” Another key thing Rachel felt she has taken away from the experience is an understanding of what university and college entails. She explained: “During my time at the academy, I experienced studying at the university and college. We were given real university work and it showed I wouldn’t be thrown in the deep end - there would be support available. I also think that doing events projects at college has prepared me for the standard of work expected at university. “The events industry is very broad. Although I am unsure exactly what type of events I would like to do, the academy has given me the opportunity to experience the hospitality and tourism events sector. This is a path I may wish to pursue in the future.” Rachel concluded: “I’ve recommended the Hospitality and Tourism Academy to students in the years below me at school. It’s a great opportunity. I met loads of people from different schools and backgrounds, got practical experience and developed industry contacts. Who knows – these contacts may come useful in the future when planning events!”
Jake Lavery, Preston Lodge High School, Hospitality and Tourism Academy

>> We were up against college and industry professions and it was a team from Gleneagles that actually won in the flambé category. That gives a flavour of the level of the competition, so it was quite an achievement to get a bronze medal. After the event we were invited to a celebratory awards dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel where we were presented with our certificates.


“I’ve loved every minute of being in the Hospitality and Tourism Academy. I like being around people, so I’ve really enjoyed the practical and social aspects of working in the industry. I gained some work experience at The Point Hotel in Edinburgh where I worked in reception under the guidance of a young manager. Every Tuesday evening, for several months, I was part of an academy student team at Edinburgh College’s training restaurant ‘EH15’. One week we would work in the kitchens preparing the food, the next week we’d be gaining experience in front of house. We worked over the busy Christmas period and for most of our training evenings, the restaurant was full. I really enjoyed the whole aspect of meeting and talking to guests and ensuring they had a good experience.


“I can hardly believe how much experience and industry knowledge I have gained in two years of the academy programme. If I successfully complete the full two year Hospitality and Tourism Academy programme I’ll be leaving 6th year with an HNC in Hospitality over and above my school qualifications.


“No-one from my family has ever been to university. Without the academy programme, I probably wouldn’t have believed I was university material either. However, the academy has made me realise that there are lots of possibilities and I’m hoping to secure my place on the  BA (Hons) International Hospitality and Tourism Management degree at Queen Margaret University. Successful completion of the academy programme, and gaining my HNC, means I can skip a year at university and go straight into the second year of the degree programme. I don’t know any other school leavers who have this option.


“After the degree I might like to go into Human Resource Management, but ultimately, I’d like to set up my own business. The Academy programme has taught me that anything is possible if you work hard, get the right skills and adopt the right attitude. So I’m just going to go for it!”

18 year old Jake Lavery was in the first cohort of students to join the Hospitality and Tourism Academy in 2012. His mum had a background in catering and, although he knew he didn’t want to be a chef, he was keen to find out about other career opportunities in the hospitality and tourism industry. With an outgoing personality and an ability to give anything a go, he agreed to take part in the first academy programme. Jake knew he was in for a busy two years – his involvement with the Hospitality and Tourism Academy meant that, in addition to his normal school curriculum, he had to commit to college and university work as well as some industry visits.


Life as an academy student has been very varied over the last two years. Jake tells us more about some of his experiences.

“Lots of amazing things have happened since I’ve been at the academy. Firstly, I took part in the opening academy reception at the Scottish Parliament, then I gained some helpful practical skills when I worked in service at a real event for hospitality professionals. I learned how to flambé and I won a bronze medal at the National Culinary Championships, at Scothot 2013, the hospitality industry exhibition held at the SECC. The competition was really nerve racking as we had to cook and present two portions of a flambé main course and two portions of a sweet in just 30 minutes. >>


Shelby Dalgleish, formerly Prestonlodge High School pupil now student at QMU

Shelby’s involvement with the Hospitality and Tourism Academy meant that, in addition to her normal school curriculum, she committed to studying at both Edinburgh College and QMU, as well as experiencing industry visits and a work placement.


Life as an academy student has been very varied for Shelby throughout her two years with the academy. As well as getting valuable hands-on work experience at the EH15 Restaurant & Bar at Edinburgh College, Shelby also visited a variety of local hotels and tourism venues to widen her knowledge and experience, including Novotel and The Point Hotel in Edinburgh.


The experiences Shelby had on the Hospitality and Tourism Academy also helped her develop her customer service and computer skills.


Shelby tells us more about some of her experiences: “I joined the academies programme because it offered me an amazing new way to get a place a university and follow my chosen career path.

“The work experience and hotel visits I made were a real eye opener for me as I didn’t really have any behind the scenes knowledge before taking part in the programme.


“The academies programme was a wonderful experience and I feel very lucky to have been part of it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the academy. I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in getting into the hospitality and tourism sector as a career to sign up to the academies programme - you never know where you might end up!”





Shelby Dalgleish (second right) with her year group at the first Academy graduation ceremony (2014)

A student from Prestonpans in East Lothian was the first person in her family to secure a place at university thanks to the acclaimed academies project, spearheaded by Queen Margaret University (QMU) and Edinburgh College.


In 2014, Shelby Dalgleish was one of the first group of students to successfully complete the two-year Hospitality and Tourism Academy programme. Her involvement in the academy secured her a place at Queen Margaret University on the BA (Hons) International Hospitality and Tourism Management degree programme.




Hospitality and Tourism Academy students serve up a three course gourmet meal to MSP at the Members’ Restaurant in the Scottish Parliament

Visit to Doubletree by Hilton Edinburgh – City Centre

MSP Fergus Ewing, Minister for Tourism, shares his vision for the future of Scotland’s tourism industry at the Scottish Parliament.

Students gaining practical experience at Edinburgh College's EH15 training restaurant

See what our hospitality and tourism students are saying about their academy experience by clicking the above tab.


All content © 2014 SESAP
South East Scotland Academies Partnership