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June 16, 2008
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John Walker: Shaping the future through effective education




It goes without saying that people with the right skills are crucial to the success and competitiveness of any business. The events industry is no exception. As events professionals it is our responsibility to ensure that there is a consistency between what is on offer from education and training providers, and what employers within the industry need. Eventia’s Education Committee is taking a proactive approach to achieving just that. We have opened up a dialogue with the UK’s educational establishments and are committed to getting involved in shaping the next generation of event organisers.

In today’s competitive market, your average account manager needs a greater breadth of skills than ever before. A broad mix of finance, marketing, communications and creative skills, combined with a first class customer service ethic and unsurpassed organisational skills are all but essential. Technical capabilities are also much sought after. Today’s technological advances bring with them many exciting opportunities, but with the opportunities come challenges. Events organisers need a workforce prepared to embrace new technology in order to provide the market with the sophisticated and professional service it is increasingly demanding.

Opening channels
We believe that an open dialogue between event industry representatives and the education establishments is long overdue. After all, they are producing our future workforce.

Not only would employers benefit from a greater understanding of the breadth and scope of current curriculums, but we should be proactively offering up-to-date advice on the changing needs of the industry. Opening up a dialogue between the industry and education establishments is the first step.

Future plans include solutions to bridge the burgeoning gap between the classroom and reality. Proposals to offer key opinion leaders from across the industry as guest lecturers are already in discussion. Presentations on key topics, such as procurement and risk assessment, or from specialist events organisers, will bring real-life experience into the classroom and encourage much needed personal contact between staff, students and industry advisors.

Online developments
We are also considering creating a web-based resource that will provide a valuable communication tool for students and potential employers. Such a website could be used to advertise experiential learning and work placements. It could also profile potential employers and job opportunities and provide a ‘clearing house’ where students can post their CVs. This would enable graduates to better match their skills and interests with job opportunities and work placements, and significantly reduce the much scatter gun approach to applications that is becoming frustratingly common.

As an industry, we recognise that there is an increasing need for a talented workforce with a broad mix of skills. If our businesses are to survive and compete in the future we need to wake-up, smell the coffee and take some responsibility for helping to shape the next generation of graduates.

John Walker is managing director of a corporate meeting, event and conference management company Oxford International. John has been an elected board member of Eventia since 2004 and heads up the association’s Education Committee.


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