As consumers continue to drink “up”—that is, drink less but better-quality alcohol beverages—the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has released data showing demand for wine, spirits, and sake education is at an all-time high. For the academic year ending July 31, a record 85,487 candidates internationally sought to complete WSET professional programs, marking the 15th consecutive year of growth in the industry.

By keeping staff up-to-date with new trends and products, hospitality establishments are better able to guide their customers, who continue to demonstrate a willingness to explore niche wines and spirits. WSET education is constantly updated to keep pace with developments in the industry.

In this most recent academic year, the United Kingdom led growth with a 14 percent increase over the previous year, followed by mainland China and the United States. In this country, there are now 50 approved WSET program providers, including newly updated educational opportunities in spirits (Level 2) and sake (Level 3).

“I’m delighted to see more and more businesses are recognizing that education and well-trained staff are the foundations to better customer service and stronger profits,” said WSET CEO Ian Harris at the time of the announcement. “After another successful year for WSET, we’re setting out strategies to take our progress to the next level.