The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has launched a ground-breaking initiative, as part of its diversity and inclusion programme, to help support indigenous students develop careers in the Australian drinks industry. Working closely with the National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI) – the organisation which aims to create highly skilled indigenous chefs through elite training, experience and mentoring by Australia’s top chefs – WSET has developed and is funding a programme to offer more than 150 indigenous students the opportunity to take a WSET qualification over a three-year period (2022-2024).

In the first year, 30 students who are already enrolled on hospitality courses with NICI, will be given the opportunity to take a WSET Level 1 Award in Wines course. These students will also receive additional support through extra teaching time, a mentorship programme and work experience days. Successful students will then be able to take the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines in year two with another cohort of 30 students taking their WSET Level 1 Award in Wines. In year three an additional 30 students will be given the same opportunity, with the most promising students taking the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and completing WSET’s Educator Training programme.

Commenting on the initiative Sarah Andrew, WSET Business Development Manager in Australia said, “We are delighted that we are able to launch this initiative today. The Australian drinks and hospitality industry currently offers extremely limited opportunities for those from disadvantaged, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.”

She added, “Currently there are no Australian WSET educators or sommeliers identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander working in the industry and there isn’t a clear pathway to drive positive change and diversity. We hope that our initiative will empower individuals to use their WSET qualifications as a springboard to achieve rewarding careers within the drinks industry.”

NICI CEO Nathan Lovett commented, The NICI is very excited to be opening new employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust education programmes. Our program started with the goal of developing Australia’s next top chefs and these qualifications will help us to create Australia’s next top Sommeliers.”

WSET and NICI will start recruiting students next month for the first Level 1 Award in Wines course which takes place in February in Sydney. In the first year, courses will be taught by Sarah Andrew DipWSET, WSET certified educator.

For further information about the initiative, please contact Sarah Andrew sandrew@wsetglobal.com