Storm Hector did nothing to dampen the enthusiastic spirit at Diageo’s Learning for Life graduation ceremony on the 14th June. Twenty two graduates, along with their families, Diageo employees, and other members of the community attended this celebratory event. While the Learning for Life programme has been providing education and support for the long term unemployed since 2014, this year marks a new focus on addressing unemployment with refugees and asylum seekers. Diageo has been working with the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Department of Justice and Equality in the first programme of its kind to help refugees integrate, find work, and settle in Ireland.
This year, 22 participants from countries like Zimbabwe and Syria have all had the opportunity over the last 12 weeks to avail of placements in the hospitality, food & beverage sector in Dublin. At the same time they were provided with mentoring by Diageo employees, training from First Western, and participation in events like the UNHCR-sponsored Refugee Food Festival.
Oliver Loomes, Managing Director for Diageo Ireland addressed the audience, saying: “at the heart of our sustainability strategy, Learning for Life is a demonstration of Diageo’s commitment across Ireland to be a cause for good in all of our communities. We work in many countries around the world as a business and with many people of different backgrounds. It’s core to our ethos as a company that we help people of all races and backgrounds, to make the very best of yourselves and your lives. “
Minister of Equality and Integration, David Stanton of the Department of Justice commended the graduates on their leadership, saying: “You are the trailblazers, the first group of persons in the Protection process in Ireland to come through such a programme.” He told the attendees that upon implementation of the Reception Conditions Directive which recognises the right to work for people in the Protections process, “those who have completed the programme will now be eligible to work, and will have the additional skills to enter the work force.”
The Government have agreed to accept 4,000 persons under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme. Providing refugees with access not just to live in Ireland, but to the opportunity to work as well is an important part of their integration as it provides a sense of purpose and independence. Diageo’s Learning for Life programme has impacted more than 115,000 people worldwide thus far. With the new focus on refugees and asylum seekers as well as alignment to the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving employment and decent work for all, the programme will increase its impact significantly.
With a focus on adult education, the programme is implemented in partnership with local educational, governmental and training organisations.
Learning for Life provides tools, training and skills in four key areas related to our industry and value chain – hospitality, retail, entrepreneurship and bartending – and is designed to:
Learning for Life matches high-potential individuals with vacancies within the industry and works to reduce the gap between people’s skills and the competencies required by employers.
By ensuring work experience for at least 70% of participants, the programme supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of achieving employment and decent work for all.