At this year’s International Confex the event assistant apprenticeship was launched and the response has been phenomenal, with almost every trade association backing the initiative, and leading employers, such as FIRST, drp and Avenue Events committing to taking on an apprentice.
But have you committed? Are you someone who has complained about the struggle to find great talent in the industry, and the difficulty in keeping them once you have? At the risk of being rude, if you haven’t looked at event apprenticeships, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The excellent event management degrees offered by so many universities may be a solution; however mounting fees and a £50,000 debt with no certainty of a job at the end is a deterrent for many young people, who are rapidly turning to the ‘earn while you learn’ approach.
The event assistant apprenticeship programme is designed by industry experts and delivered through face-to-face and online study in conjunction with apprentices doing ‘real’ work. Their final assessment includes presenting a major event project to an expert assessor.
At Realise, we’ve identified the major issues – and in some cases misconceptions – around apprenticeships. Firstly, some employers are deterred by the idea of taking on a 16-year-old; we would advise that 18 is the minimum age, which also helps with Health & Safety issues and the fact that (in case you haven’t noticed) we sometimes serve alcohol at events. Also, the new world of apprenticeships means that you can take someone at any age, enabling people to retrain or gain a qualification while building on their existing practical experiences.
Savvy companies also understand that they can offer apprenticeships to existing staff, with no change in their terms of employment, but the opportunity for heavily subsidised training and a nationally recognised qualification at the end.
Another concern is the time to complete an apprenticeship especially in an industry that is used to buying in expensive people skills for short-term projects. In order to succeed your business will need to make a commitment that will require resources to coach, mentor and develop the apprentice.
Yes, there’s a degree of altruism in bringing on the next generation, but it’s also a sound business decision. The government’s own statistics show that apprentices are far more loyal towards employers, staying on average 56% longer than other employees; that’s good to know, especially when some bright young things may finish the programme ahead of time and be chomping at the bit for a full-time role.
There are a few issues that Realise is trying to address; for example, in a sector where so many people are field-based, finding somewhere for an apprentice to work can be a challenge, but such issues are not insurmountable. This is the start of a journey that is intended to lead to degree level event apprenticeships, and is integral to the burgeoning movement to ‘professionalise’ the industry.
A cynical CEO once asked his HR director, ‘Our staff; what happens if we train them, and they leave?’ Her reply? ‘What happens if we don’t train them – and they stay?’
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