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.
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.
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.