The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) reports that a record 94,822 candidates took up courses in wine and spirits in the academic year finishing 31 July 2018.
The WSET recognises that this spark in demand, an increase of 11% on the previous year, is down to rising spirits sales worldwide.
Global market intelligence publisher Euromonitor reported 5.8% growth in the volume of spirits sold in the UK over the last five years, with vodka, whisky and gin dominating sales.
The WSET Level 2 Award in Spirits was the qualification that saw the highest rise in the UK, and globally, with candidate numbers up 43% in the UK versus last year and 55% worldwide.
WSET chief executive Ian Harris said: “2017/18 has been another successful year for WSET as we continue to strengthen our offer to maintain our ‘best in class’ reputation.
“Global demand makes wine education the bread and butter of our business, but it is great to see such high growth in spirits qualifications as we prepare for the launch of the first WSET Level 3 Award in Spirits next year.”
The top ten WSET markets for the academic year 2017/18 were China (+9%), UK (+0%), USA (+24%), Canada (+5%), Australia (+18%), France (+17%), UAE (+40%), Switzerland (-1%), Brazil (75%) and the Netherlands (+6%).
Continued growth puts China top of the table with the highest total number of WSET candidates. The region brought in 9% more candidates over the last academic year, totalling 21,986 overall.
The UK remained strong with a total of 19,460 candidates, matching last year, while USA saw the strongest growth of the top three markets with candidate numbers up 24% to 14,204.
Having seen phenomenal growth in WSET candidate numbers, Brazil and UAE have both climbed into the list of top 10 markets.
Brazil’s Eno Cultura, winner of WSET’s Educator of the Year Award 2017, has been spreading WSET course availability across the country while the UAE has seen a significant boost in WSET candidate numbers for both wine and spirits qualifications, largely driven by the thriving hospitality scene centred around Dubai.
More than 110 new Approved Programme Providers (APPs) opened over the last year, with courses launching in new markets Gibraltar and Uruguay.
There are now 33 WSET Diploma centres worldwide, following the recent additions of Bordeaux Wine Academy, Napa Valley Wine Academy and American Wine School. Overall, there are over 800 APPs offering WSET qualifications to trade professionals and consumer enthusiasts in over 70 countries.
Over the next academic year, the education and awards teams will be carrying out the final stages of preparation ahead of the launch of WSET’s new and enhanced qualifications in August 2019, which will be separated into three distinct subject-matter streams: wine, spirits and sake.
Described as the “first-of-its-kind”, the Level 3 Award in Spirits will undergo an intensive pilot programme, while materials will be finalised for the Level 2 Award in Wines and the new flagship Diploma in Wines.
2019 will also see the Level 1 Award in Wines and Level 1 Award in Spirits both become available through online study, in addition to the existing classroom course offering.