John McLellan: Exchange 2 may change our idea of this ‘necessary evil’

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The hold-up of the Exchange 2 development at the EICC delays a chance to change the way tourism is viewed by many in Edinburgh, from a necessary evil into a more visible and attractive career opportunity.

The scheme includes partnerships with Queen Margaret and Napier Universities to produce the tourism equivalent of a teaching hospital, giving students hands-on experience of managing accommodation, catering and events at the conference centre and a new hotel, with their classrooms right next door.

The plans for Exchange 2 have hit a delay over the proposed height

The plans for Exchange 2 have hit a delay over the proposed height

Planning councillors were unhappy with the proposed height and now developer Duddingston House Properties must re-think their plan and lose a floor if it is to succeed. They would be wise to do so. A similar approach to training is being taken at the new St James where a new initiative called “Fuse” will be launched next week. Involving London’s Fashion Retail Academy and Heriot-Watt University‘s expertise in textile design, it will provide retail and hospitality training, from school leavers right through to managers seeking a career change.

READ MORE: Hotel complex set to go-head on EICC doorstep

It will not just be for businesses in the complex, but across the city centre through a partnership with the Essential Edinburgh business improvement district and the Edinburgh Airport Recruitment Centre.

Together, St James and Exchange 2 promise a training environment unrivalled outside London with real careers at the end of it, and the educational magnet should help city businesses facing staff shortages – which most of them are – to find the people they need. Fingers crossed Exchange 2 eventually passes muster.

READ MORE: Watch: Ground level work has started on new Edinburgh St James