At the end of last month, the United States Distilled Spirits Council announced a new initiative called DISCUS Academy. If you see yourself as an occasional consumer, you could be forgiven for not having heard of this organization before. After all, DISCUS does a lot of its work behind the scenes. Yet, you have surely been touched by some of their work. The Council represents the biggest brands in the liquor industry. Most of the time, they pressure politicians at the state and federal levels to modernize outdated laws – for example, the inability to buy alcohol on Sundays – and to adopt favorable tax policy.
With DISCUS Academy, they are moving in a direction more open to the public by actively courting potential entrepreneurs in the sector. For those looking to break into the spirits industry, it promises training and support in key areas including leadership development, sales and marketing, laws and regulations, as well as safety and management. risks. The online program was developed in partnership with Cornell University and will be available to DISCUS members and non-members.
A brief overview of upcoming courses reveals a litany of necessary skills: Best practices in fire protection; Foundation on the 3-tier system; Develop an understanding of financial statements and cash flow management– to name a few. This is a one-of-a-kind service for the industry. And it comes at a time when artisanal distilleries face unprecedented challenges. To learn more about the initiative and why it has come about now, I sat down with Sarah fitzmaurice, who leads the planning and management of resources for DISCUS. His answers are below.
Where did the idea for DISCUS Academy come from?
When we were looking for the next opportunity to unite the spirits industry, we noticed that there was a lot of education around the production of spirits but not a lot of education in key areas that support the success of the company. industry as a whole.
Why is this happening now?
In the face of the challenges facing the hospitality industry with the pandemic, it is more important than ever to provide spirits companies with the resources they need to be successful.
American restaurants and bars lost more than 5 million jobs at the start of the pandemic, and by the end of 2020, more than 2 million jobs had still not been recovered. It is a devastating loss for the hospitality industry. We believe that DISCUS Academy offers an opportunity to develop the talent pool for the industry with displaced on-site workers looking to enter the spirits business.
Why is now the right time to be successful?
Over the past year, people have become increasingly comfortable bringing the classroom to their homes due to the pandemic. This expansion of virtual learning has made education more accessible and convenient for working professionals.
Is DISCUS considering an accreditation program under DISCUS Academy in the future?
Although there is nothing planned at this time, we will consider accreditation in the future. Our main goal is to continue to improve and develop DISCUS Academy in order to develop an innovative workforce for the spirits industry.