Let’s fling open our doors – and build events back better

Dr Caroline Jackson, vice-chair of Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) discusses the need to retain talent in the events industry and why we need to open our doors to encourage a diverse community of practitioners.

While the current employment climate is challenging, people are still being employed in events.

As chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP) Skills & Talent Working Group, we recognise the need for us all to act now to ensure that the UK events industry is attractive to and receptive to new people for the future. This is not just about consumer or business prospects but those working in events, the whole eco‐system (AKA supply chain). Meetings and incentive travel are part of the wider events industry which is fighting as One Industry One Voice.

Who knows how many of the 700,000 employed in events in 2019 will still be with us in 2021? We are losing so many valuable, skilled and experienced people to other sectors, who knows who will come back? We need to be ready for when more live events are permitted, and capacities increased. We need to have the skills to work with the online and hybrid events that will increase the scope and global reach of what we do.

Future of working in events

What is becoming clear to me from the work of the BVEP Skills and Talent Working Group is that, despite huge efforts to protect work and jobs, organisations are still looking to the future and ways of building back responsibly. Events are a people business and so building back with a better focus on people makes sense.

The BVEP UK Events Report chapter on People identified a number of factors that contribute to the employment, development and reward of those working in events. It raised a number of issues that still need to be addressed. Events are no different from other sectors, where a greater emphasis on the social and human agenda is being identified. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commitment signed by BVEP Partners, has the vision for “an events industry where every person feels welcomed, empowered, advanced and valued”. We need to open our doors to encourage a diverse community of practitioners.

The Apprenticeship door into the events industry

What is, or was, your role in events? Are you a meeting planner? Do you work in an association, a venue, an agency, or a supplier? What was your journey to this job? Who opened the door(s) for you? Were any doors closed on you?

The Trailblazer scheme introduced a number of new Government recognised Apprenticeship programmes, including a Level 3 Event Assistant. The anticipation is that this programme will develop further and into higher levels.

The advantage of the apprenticeship programme is that people are training and working at the same time. One of the training providers who were part of the original development was Realise. David Preston, CEO of Realise, explains that “the apprenticeship programme gives a real alternative to people to enter the event industry. It has the advantage that you are paid while you learn, which enables all people from all backgrounds to join the programme and therefore removes any financial barriers.”


A number of apprentices have completed their 18-month programme. Two of them, Muminah Rasul and Rebekah Dennis, outline their experiences and reasons for doing an apprenticeship.

What did you do on your apprenticeship?

MR: I worked on a range of large corporate and charity events. As a small company, I was able to manage multiple aspects from clients and sponsors to finance and production.

RD: I worked on 11 small to largescale corporate conferences and exhibitions (150 – 4500 attendees), from virtual to physical events.

Why did you do an Apprenticeship?

MR: Uni was always my original plan and choosing to do an apprenticeship was quite a last-minute thought. I always knew I enjoyed organising and events, so I started looking into this more especially as I didn’t have clear subject, I would want to study at Uni for 3 years. I found this apprenticeship through the GOV website, spoke to the team, had my interview and the rest is history.

RD: To get some technical knowledge about running events. I felt like I didn’t understand the metrics of success as well as I could have, so I knew a company like Informa would be a great place to gain insights on what success looks like.

What did you get out of it?

MR: The whole process has been really beneficial and rewarding. I’ve been able to learn so much and fully understand how events work from start to finish. I’ve met so many people and learnt to deal with clients, guests and sponsors well. I’ve also been immersed in all the behind the scenes and worked on finances and a range of software’s which has been beneficial in work and personal life. RD: Recognized within team for outstanding remote working standards arranging 19 meetings in assistance to my team for the AfricaCom Conference 2019, through independently designed telemarketing campaign.

As an organisation or employer, you will have your own human resource plans and processes. Now is the time to review these, to investigate other pathways to your door.








Dr Caroline Jackson, Vice Chair, Business Visits & Events Partnership; Executive Committee, Association for Events Management Education.



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