Dan Howson: Fresh start

Events businesses should invest in apprenticeship schemes instead of relying heavily on recruitment companies, so says Dan Howson, founder and head of business development, sevens7

I am still surprised at the number of business leaders I come across who know little or nothing about the value of apprenticeships. What’s worse are those businesses which refuse to take them seriously. It was not so long ago you couldn’t avoid a single media channel talking about such schemes so why aren’t we embracing them?

Our industry struggles to provide formal routes of access for school and university leavers and relies too heavily on recruitment companies looking out for higher education qualifications while still telling people “It’s not what you know it’s who you know”.

Unless we embrace apprenticeships our industry will remain an unapproachable, closed book employing the same types of people from the same types of backgrounds.

Apprenticeships provide non-graduates with opportunities and hands-on experience that no course can teach. More importantly, an apprenticeship can also provide complex disadvantaged young people and those less fortunate with an education with an opportunity to work in our industry, an area in which I believe our industry can do more.

Often as young as 16 and living locally to your business, these young and enthusiastic new starters are willing to earn and learn and the apprenticeship provides structure.

Providing opportunities to young people has helped me to understand them a lot better, giving me a real advantage on how best to use them, and I’ve been amazed at the creativity and value they bring.

Having employed apprentices and engineered apprenticeships for fellow businesses for two years, I can safely say they are a fantastic way of training and developing new and existing staff for the future. You don’t even have to scrap your current recruitment policy; apprenticeships can sit alongside your graduate schemes and internships and you can develop and tailor your own apprenticeship.

Interestingly, apprenticeships are flexible and there are plenty of training providers with access to an alternative talent pool covering a wide range of industry-related courses.

There are different levels to apprenticeships but they are value for money particularly when employing 16-19-year-olds.

So for me the benefits are incredible and the scope even more exciting. Let’s put some more thought, effort and practice into training the next generation.