Scotland's first hospitality and tourism academy for secondary pupils has been launched in East Lothian.
The initiative, set up by East Lothian Council, Queen Margaret University, Jewel amp; Esk College and major hotel groups, will aim to raise the profile of the sector and expose young people to the variety of career opportunities in the hospitality industry.
Thirty-eight young people from Musselburgh Grammar, Preston Lodge High in Prestonpans and Ross High in Tranent, chosen through a competitive selection process, will be the first to take part in the new programme and work towards an award in either "hospitality and tourism industry" or "hospitality and tourism management".
The partner organisations hope that getting young people involved in the industry early and providing them with a range of education and work experience opportunities will mean they acquire not only the academic knowledge, but also the skills and attitudes employers need and thereby raise standards.
Professor Alan Gilloran, vice-principal at Queen Margaret University, said: "Scotland has wonderful food, a stunning landscape and a rich cultural heritage, but all too often we let ourselves down with our service delivery. Through the academy, we will promote the attitude that service excellence is the only acceptable standard."
Using feedback from industry partners, the project team has built a curriculum which includes employability skills, certificates, relevant and high-quality work experience and business mentoring, as well as gaining more traditional qualifications, said Shamin Akhtar, cabinet member for education at East Lothian Council
"The shared teaching with our partners at QMU and JEC also allows young people to experience college and university while still at school, which will raise their aspirations and enable them to make educated career choices which are right for them as individuals."
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