The figures represent candidates across all qualification levels, from the foundation Level 1 awards through to the WSET Diploma, in 62 countries around the world.
WSET Chief Executive Ian Harris said: “I’m delighted to be able to report another year of double-digit growth in WSET candidate numbers. Over recent years, the WSET team have put a great deal of effort into developing new qualifications, ensuring that the existing ones are as accurate and fit-for-purpose as they can possibly be, and making them available in the languages in which they are needed – 17 currently.”
The figures show the greatest numerical growth has come in mainland China, the UK and the US. Harris said: “These figures of course reflect the continued strong growth in interest in wine in China, plus the growth in the imported wine market in the US.
“I have to say, though that I am particularly pleased to see such good figures from the UK. It might be our original, oldest and biggest market, but the fact that we are still seeing solid growth here bodes well in my view for the future of the UK trade. If consumers are going to trade up and ‘buy better,’ then it is well-qualified trade professionals who are going to help them do it.”
Chairman of WSET’s board of trustees Laura Jewell MW added: “Ten years ago, WSET’s candidate numbers were just over 10,000 per annum. To have achieved almost five-fold growth since, and through a period of the global economic uncertainty, is a great achievement which puts WSET firmly on top of the world of wine and spirit education, something of which we can all be proud.”
WSET’s TOP TEN MARKETS 2012/13
(last year’s position)
1 UK (1)
2 China – mainland (4)
3 USA (3)
4 Hong Kong (2)
5 Canada (5)
6 Australia (7)
7 France (6)
8 South Korea (8)
9 Taiwan (-)
10 Turkey (-)
(Basis: total candidate numbers, unweighted. Source: WSET)
The WSET has also announced the release of its Level 3 award in Wines and Spirits in two additional languages: Spanish and Portuguese.
The number of students taking a WSET exam in a language other than English has doubled over the last two years and now stands at 25% of the total. Across all languages, the largest increase has been at Levels 1 and 2 and during the 2011-2012 academic year 1,135 students took an exam at these levels in either Spanish or Portuguese.
Jude Mullins, WSET’s international development director, said: “Recent growth in Latin America has been particularly strong, so it is crucial that we support our Approved Programme Providers and those embarking on our qualifications by offering them Level 1, 2 and 3 examinations in their mother tongue.”
Level 3 will now be available in English, German, French, Greek, Spanish and Portuguese, with examinations for the two new languages being available from August 1.