As staff shortages reportedly continue to affect the hotel and restaurant trade, a new coffee academy in Perthshire is hoping to help.
Secondary school students will get hands-on experience and additional qualifications to help them start a career in hospitality at the academy in Aberfeldy, which is looking to help give the hospitality industry a much-needed boost.
And the pupils believe it will stand them in good stead going forward.
Daniel Fraser said: “We have been learning about how most coffees are made and how to use the proper equipment to serve people, as well as the actual process of how the coffee goes from where it is grown to how it gets to places and how it is normally prepared.”
Fellow pupil India Ross said: “It helps with customer service to get a job when I am older. It is just really useful to have.”
And Joanna McCloud added: “It’s more practical and you get more real-life experience being out of school.”
After securing funding, the pilot scheme will run for two years teaching the students about the coffee industry with qualifications from the Speciality Coffee Association.
It’s hoped the students will be able to put what they’ve learned into practice and help with staffing shortages in the sector, which has reached boiling point after the last 18 months.
Jamie Grant from Glen Lyon Coffee said: “We supply coffee to a lot of cafes locally and in the Highlands and we have seen a real crisis in staffing over the last 18 months.
“A lot of cafes are really struggling to find staff – the point of which they are having to close for some of the week or for periods. So we are really trying to skill-up the next generation of top baristas to help support the rural economy.”
As well as gaining skills to help them join the workforce, some of the students have seen their confidence perk up.
Kyle Munro said: “I think definitely coming outside of school to do education is a really great thing because I definitely struggle with going to classes and focusing, so I think it has been a great thing to boost my confidence and even when I go back after visiting here I still feel confident and ready to go.”
It’s hoped the coffee academy and its pupils won’t run out of steam and in the future it’ll be able to expand to include more schools and give more youngsters the chance to learn new skills.