‘Most tourists want to hear the real Dub accent’
A Diageo scheme takes 15 young, long-term unemployed people from working-class areas of Dublin and trains them for the hospitality industry. We meet three of them
Jonathan Wilson, Aaron Carey and Dane Carr, three of the successful Learning for Life scheme candidates, at the Guinness Storehouse. Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
The Learning for Life programme, run by the drinks multinational Diageo, ran for the first time in Ireland this year. It was aimed at young people who were long-term unemployed, and operated in conjunction with the Department of Social Welfare, through which the candidates were recruited.
The young people interviewed for the scheme all come from Dublin 8, home of the old Guinness complex, which now houses the Guinness Storehouse, the country’s busiest tourist attraction. Three hundred people were screened by the Department, and 15 made it through that process.
“We spent a lot of time choosing the people,” says Peter O’Brien, corporate relations director of Diageo in western Europe. The scheme started in Caribbean and South American countries in 2008, training people from poor areas to work in the hospitality industry. “We’re very clear on Learning for Life that we understand the hospitality industry, and we stick to what we know, ” says O’Brien.
The 15 successful candidates were given seven weeks of intensive training at the Guinness Storehouse. In June there was a graduation ceremony, presided over by the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton. The candidates were overwhelmingly male; just one female graduated. Until the end of September, they are working out their on-the-job contracts at hotels, bars and tourist destinations around Dublin. Diageo will run the scheme again next year.
Carr is a doorman at the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen’s Green. “I like the uniform; it’s very dapper,” he says. “You feel a sense of class when you put it on.”
He is 24 but looks younger. “I get that a lot,” he says. He’s also a drummer with The Koozies. He is enjoying the job. “It’s nice to be nice,” he says.
Carr lives with his mother on Kevin Street, and is so confident and personable that it’s hard to believe he was unemployed for a long time. “It had been ‘no dice’ for a good while. A bit of seasonal work in Dunnes. When you’re on the dole you stagnate.”
He is very enthusiastic about the Learning for Life programme. “Only 15 of us got picked,” he says. “We’ve done restaurant skills, bar skills, health and safety for the kitchen, first aid . . . It was seven weeks, and it was eye-opening stuff; just setting the table for a restaurant a la carte.”
He wanted to work in a hotel. “I like the whole meeting-and-greeting thing. I’ve been two months in the Fitzwilliam now. It’s always something new every day. It’s a fantastic place. I’d like to stay on here. The staff are so good, so kind, giving training all the time. You have to give it to them.”