Another key point that I gained from the Association of Event Management Education conference this week was that employers are looking for live experience of the events sector above any other skill, training or experience. Pretty much all of the event management courses in the UK offer this in some way shape or form. Most of us offer running their own events, volunteering, placements, industry qualifications like personal license or first aid, as well as the higher education qualification. And several of the presentations raised the need to go further. We are all offering these opportunities to students but even some of the best are struggling to settle in employment in the sector and are being beaten to the best jobs.
I have observed this struggle from both the University and employer perspective where I have employed people I have taught and who I have believed to be brilliant but they have struggled to get their heads around this transition into employment. Maybe it’s the simple fact of moving from part-time attendance to full time work. Maybe it’s the increased workload and the multiple projects. Maybe they struggle to change our relationship from tutor/student to employer/employee.
Whatever the reason, it’s happening all over the place and brilliant students are leaving the sector and not fulfilling their potential. Similarly, we as an industry are not making best use of the talent that is out there. So what can universities do to ensure that students are really truly ready for employment, that they have the skills and confidence needed?
Well it comes back to that previous blog post about engaging the senses to reach that state of becoming and being. Employers need graduates to be and become before they start work. We need them to have taken risks and responsibility and pushed themselves and worked really hard across both practical and theoretical approaches. We need the universities to enable students to connect that belonging with being so that their commitment and ability might be interconnected. This is not because we (employers) are shirking our responsibilities but rather because our industry is fast paced and hard work and high pressure and we just don’t have the time to coax people into work. We need them alert, engaged, ready to go and ready to make their contribution to making great events happen, to making a difference and to fulfilling their potential. We can’t do it for them.
So it’s not just about providing more live events experience for students (although that might be part of it) or necessarily about grades or qualifications. I think it’s about finding the aptitude and engaging the motivation to learn and develop and deliver. And I believe that it’s going to take a different approach to achieve it; one that is more bespoke, supportive, engaging and definitely not via powerpoint! It’s not an efficient way to get students ready for work, but I believe it is effective. I’d best go and work on my planning of sessions for September then!
Claire Eason Bassett, Managing Director, Mackerel Sky