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apprentice general

Realising the apprentice aim

David Preston of Realise looks back at one year of event apprenticeships

A recap: The event apprenticeship was launched officially at International Confex 2017 after several years of development. The driving force was the government’s desire to boost the lagging productivity of UK plc by creating 3m new apprenticeships by 2020. As an incentive (carrot or stick, depending on your viewpoint) companies with a payroll of more than £3m are paying a levy of 0.5% from April last year, which would be used to fund the training of apprenticeships. For those not paying the levy, the government would fund a generous 90% of the training.

The apprenticeship strategy was followed by the Brexit vote, and companies in the meetings and events industry were also aware that several years of uncertainty regarding immigration could have severe issues for a sector that had traditionally relied on staff from abroad.

With that kind of motivation, it’s not surprising that many companies were eager to seize on the opportunity. 

Leading agencies – large and small, such as drp, First and Lime - and prestigious venues, such as the Southbank Centre and the Royal Opera House, recruited apprentices who made up the first cohort. 

A second swiftly followed, and additional names on board include Compass, Haymarket and Pico, but also leading brands, such as Estee Lauder, and charities such as Alzheimer’s Research.

Many apprentices come with interesting stories. Some have degrees, but have now decided a career in events is more appealing; others are coming from other sectors; we have a former paramedic who is making exceptional progress through the programme and already making a mark in her organisation. It’s part of the changes to the traditional way apprenticeships run; there are no age limits (although we insist event apprentices are at least 18) and graduates can be accepted (providing their degree isn’t in a similar topic). 

Perhaps more significant is the fact that you don’t have to recruit a new member of your staff; if you have an employee willing to put in the hours, and you are prepared to release them for effectively one fifth of their working week, they can become an apprentice. 

Several training organisations have identified themselves as providers of the new Event Assistant Apprenticeship. However, at Realise we only offer the events apprenticeship, and all our team bring extensive events and meetings experience along with being qualified coaches. It’s an essential mix. We also support the apprentices with a comprehensive Learning Management System and intensive workshops throughout the 18-month duration of the programme. Visits to leading industry events, such as Confex and ibtm world are also offered as part of the programme.

What else?

Realise also work with The JGA Group, who provide all the essential ‘back office’ support required by apprenticeships, and manage the relationship with Ofsted, who keep a strict eye on the programme.

The last year has seen us speaking at many industry events, promoting the events apprenticeship story and generating coverage, so you’ll have had a tough job missing news about the event apprenticeship. 

And, as we approach the first anniversary, International Confex is providing a meeting point for event apprentices, their employers, and those who would be interested in finding out more. Hear about the experience from both those who have taken on apprentices, and the apprentices themselves.  

We look forward to seeing you there.