Young winemakers needed: UK college highlights ‘shortage’

Young winemakers needed: UK college highlights ‘shortage’

Plumpton College has called for more UK school leavers to consider careers in wine after highlighting a shortage of younger recruits on its courses.

There has been intense competition among British universities to attract students through the annual ‘clearing’ period that follows A-Level results.

Amid the din, senior figures at Plumpton College in Sussex are concerned that not enough school leavers know that their future may lie in the vineyards. Its message comes amid a boom for English and Welsh wine.

Plumpton offers undergraduate and Masters courses in winemaking, viticulture and wine business, and trains around 100 students each year.

Students are, on average, in their 30s when they do the courses. School leaving-age students account only for 10% and 25% in winemaking and wine business degrees respectively, according to the college.

‘There is a real shortage of skilled young people coming into the industry,’ said Chris Foss, curriculum manager at Plumpton College.

Vineyard area has more than doubled in the UK in the past decade, but Tony Milanowski, lecturer in oenology and wine at Plumpton, believes that British school leavers are not aware of the industry.

‘For many people there is no realisation that there’s a healthy and growing wine industry in the UK and there are many opportunities both locally and internationally,’ he told

‘If you are in France, America or South Africa you see a lot of vineyards. In the UK, if you live in Liverpool, Bristol or Nottingham, you have to go out of your way to find a vineyard.’

Plumpton has been trying to reach out to students by visiting schools, but Foss believes that the industry should do more.

‘I think it’s incumbent on them to make a fuss about this; to show [young people] there is a really good future at this.’

Around 30 students graduate from Plumpton’s wine courses annually.

‘New wineries have been opening [in the UK] all the time, there is a good healthy demand for recruits,’ said Milanowski. Graduates  also commonly head to California, as well as Italy and France, he added.

Recent figures from Wine and Spirits Education Trust, the largest global provider of qualifications in wine and spirits, has shown a ‘record’ interest in wine education.

In the academic year ending in July, they noted 85,487 students globally, which is an increase by 19% in comparison to the previous year.

Of all the WSET countries, the UK saw the greatest increase by 14%.

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