As 2016 came to an end, the Government approved the first Event Management Apprenticeship programme, aimed at giving a structured route into the industry and an alternative to the University Degrees in Event Management that have become so popular in the last decade.

The initiative was announced following extensive work by the government’s Trailblazers organisation, the body behind the creation of the event apprenticeship, which worked in partnership with some of the leading event agencies in the UK. Trailblazers worked inclusively with the events industry, including associations, apprenticeship bodies and training providers and including names such as DRP, ILEA UK Chapter, EVCOM, George P Johnson and FIRST.

The work was instigated by a new government initiative that will see any business with a payroll of more than £3 million automatically facing a tax levy. This levy will go towards a central pot where funds can be drawn down for the exclusive use of apprenticeship training. The initiative will start May 17 and, with the government fully behind the use of apprenticeships in business, has a very long future ahead of it.

The new programme from the events industry is positioned at level three, broadly equating to A levels, and is open to UK residents aged 16 and over. It is focused on the event management role which is why it is suitable for all three types of businesses within the industry – agencies, supply chain and venues. Its fundamental elements are a clear definition of the skill, knowledge and behaviours required to build a successful career in event management.

Already the scheme is coming into fruition, with FIRST announcing their first apprenticeship employee last month alongside the launch of the very first training provider for the apprenticeship scheme; Realise. David Preston, who was part of the development team for the apprenticeship standard and has a 30-year industry background, including running global events programmes for organisations such as IBM and Kaspersky Labs, joined forces with industry training veteran, Richard John, to create Realise, a specialist training company that will support event apprentices.

Preston explains: “It’s an 18-month programme, which has been created and approved by Trailblazers and is ready to take on the very first event apprentices. The syllabus is a combination of structured workplace learning and assessment, supported by a blended learning programme of online development and attending specialist workshops. The material is designed to give a practical grounding for a career in event management that is designed to lead to an ongoing job upon completion.

“Britain is renowned around the world for our expertise in events because of the great talent we have. Most of what we do is very hands-on and although, as we grow in experience, we will get involved in the ‘why we do events’ and ‘how do we measure their success’ much of the work we do as we start out in our careers revolves around the execution of a great customer experience.

“Textbooks and the classrooms have their place, our industry thrives on attitude and capability, most of which can’t be learnt in that classroom, therefore if we are to build a pipeline of talent for the health of our industry, we must start to grow that new talent ourselves by investing in the next generation and apprenticeships is one structured way of doing that.”

For apprentices, the programme offers the benefit of earning while learning. And, with the Government funding the training and development element, it also means avoiding the burden of student loans. For employers, there can be no complaint that the training isn’t relevant as they have been integral in designing the new standard. And, with companies now paying an Apprenticeship Levy of 0.5 per cent on payrolls that exceed £3 million annually, the incentive to take on an event apprentice becomes far more compelling.