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Jago calls for trade to better promote its career opportunities

Published:  30 July, 2018

Speaking to Harpers at Berry Bros. & Rudd HQ in St James, the merchant’s chief executive Dan Jago made a passionate case for the wider trade to better promote the benefits of a career in the drinks sector.

Describing the trade as innovative, dynamic and diverse, he argued that the trade needs to do more to shift an image from one of people entering the trade as a lifestyle choice to one of being a serious career decision.

“The wine trade of old, which was collegiate, clubbable - people fell into it by accident rather than by intention and I think there are too many people still thinking that is the right way of developing the next generation,” said Jago, stressing that this was a personal view and not on official position of the WSTA, which he also chairs.

“And I wonder, as a trade, if it’s time we started saying that working in the drinks industry is a fantastic career, an extraordinary opportunity to be well trained, to be a specialist in what you do, to enjoy yourself and work with a life enhancing product, have fun, and to get on,” he continued.

Jago added that he believed it was “commensurate on all to do more to make that happen”, suggesting that the way that companies in the professions, such as law and accountancy firms, banks and medicine, actively go out and recruit high calibre applicants, selling the opportunities in those sectors.

While stating that the standard of those joining the trade had never been higher, Jago said the drinks industry “hasn’t done much of that and needs to do more.”

Moreover, given the clear educational path via the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) and its tiered qualifications, the drinks trade is well equipped to back up a career path through ongoing training and development, as with the top professions.

“There are not many careers, outside of the traditional professions of law and medicine and accountancy, that have such a clear path of education and qualification – it’s amazing what Ian [Harris MBE, chief executive] has done at the WSET – and you can study in clear progression from level to level.”

Jago also touched on the trend for millenials to want more fulfilling roles than the desk-bound existence often offered by rival careers, arguing that this could play well into the hands of the drinks industry.

“Millennials want something more experiential – are there any industries more experiential than this as a job? Drinks and cheffing are the most experiential jobs out there, so we should talk about that more,” he said.

“The drinks industry is a fascinating place to be, an amazing place to be, look at the amount of innovation, the creativity, the diversity, [reflected in] the number of people writing about that,” he added.

“And it’s not as badly paid as it used to be, we’ve all become a lot more professional, we employ well, we nurture well, we provide reward and opportunity, so the idea that you only go into the drinks trade as lifestyle can be turned on its head,” he concluded.

A fuller interview with Dan Jago will run in the August issue of Harpers and online at