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As a Training & Development Manager I am passionate about developing talent so when I was invited to attend a Trailblazer advisory board to discuss how to shape the apprenticeship programmes of the future for the events industry, I jumped at the opportunity.

We are always looking for new avenues to recruit and ensure a diverse employee base. We currently run an undergraduate programme where students come and work with us during their placement year and this has been hugely successful. We can definitely see how to use our learnings from the undergraduate programme and apply this to an apprenticeship scheme. We believe that the introduction of an apprenticeship programme, together with the costs associated with going to university, will see an increase in people going down the vocational career route. We think that apprenticeship programmes will be essential to this shift and could really change the shape of our industry.

Coffee in hand, I made my way to London on the train and took the opportunity to do a bit of research into how apprenticeship schemes are working in other industries. Apprenticeships are an initiative which have seen huge support from the government and are at the heart of their strategy to equip people with the skills that employer’s need to drive expansion for the future. New research shows that the right people and skills are ten times more important to expansion than access to capital. I was so pleased to read this, not only because our most valuable resource is being recognised (our staff) as the most influential, but also because the need to nurture talent and educate people through alternative routes is being highlighted.

After reading these articles I was eager to discuss what impact an apprenticeship scheme could have on the events industry in particular and hear other people’s views.

On arrival at the meeting I immediately headed for the table plan to see who else had invested time to attend. There were around 50 people from a variety of event backgrounds; corporate, agency and education. This was a great cross-section to represent the industry.

The session began by giving us a background into the work which had gone into the scheme to get them to this point. A development team had been put together about a year ago and they have been working with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. The first stage was to pull together a framework of what the apprenticeship will need to cover. It sounds simple, but as they are trying to create a framework which is relevant to all areas of the events industry, it’s more complicated that it initially seems. It has taken a huge amount of dedication from the team to get to this point, and hats off to them for persisting as the framework was finally signed off in February.

This is where they wanted us to assist. They wanted to widen the net and get a broader perspective to build the assessment standards of the apprenticeship. We were split into groups to discuss and tackle key topics and we had to steer thier thinking on how to set the criteria and industry standards for assessment, looking at things like who would form an assessment panel and what accreditation should be assigned.

The ideas and discussions these topics generated was fascinating and showed how important it is to have the input from experts across the industry to ensure that the scheme is relevant to everyone. The discussions had been very focused and the outputs were really valuable. This scheme has drive and momentum and is nearing the final stages. At this rate, we should see the first apprentices making their initial foray into the industry in October.

I came away from the session really excited about the prospects and what this could mean not only for Ashfield Meetings & Events but the entire industry. I feel privileged to be part of this scheme and can’t wait for the next developments.


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