First industry-standard events apprenticeship set to launch

Event agency First Protocol is in the process of launching an accredited 'earn and learn' apprenticeship standard, which will give non-graduates the chance to join the events industry

First Protocol's Mark Riches is leading the Trailblazer initiative
First Protocol's Mark Riches is leading the Trailblazer initiative

The Trailblazers scheme, which is currently waiting on government approval via the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, will also be marketed to disadvantaged groups such as young people from the inner city and ex-offenders.

First Protocol has been leading on the initiative since March 2015 alongside events consultant Sarah Wright and Media For Development, a not-for-profit that aims to empower isolated communities through media. It hopes to gain final government sign-off by the summer, when supporting organisations can begin to recruit apprentices.

Other companies on board include George P Johnson, Stagestruck, Regan and Dean, Off to Work and Connection Crew.

Mark Riches, managing director of First Protocol, is leading on the scheme. He told Event: "The Events Apprenticeship is the only one in our industry specifically for developing event management skills. [It] offers anyone the chance to get involved within an exciting industry that previously was difficult to enter unless you had experience or university education."

For Riches, helping ex-offenders is fundamental to the programme’s offering. "It’s important because 46% of ex-offenders reoffend within the first year and the major factor for this is due to them having no address, job, structure or routine," he explained. "We want to offer an opportunity to ‘earn and learn’, which will work against reoffending, and at the same time offer a career path for a whole new avenue of future recruits."

A standard for the industry

According to Wright, only 14% of employers currently offer an apprenticeship scheme - however the government is looking to increase the number of positions by three million in the next five years. It’s unsurprising then, that First Protocol is looking to meet the launch date proposed in its initial timeline.

Riches said: "The Trailblazer route means that employers are in control, and as employers know exactly what they need for employees in terms of skills, knowledge and behaviours, it makes sense to go down this route. We have been liaising with a broad spectrum of companies across the events Industry to create the standard, from large agencies, corporates, SMEs and the third sector, ensuring that this standard can be used across the board."

Now the Trailblazer team is focusing on creating the scheme's assessment structure - a facet that is just as important as the apprenticeship itself - that will ensure all apprentices are 'job ready' by the end of the programme.

The board will also contact training providers to better structure the process, and look to create communications materials and a dedicated website so that participating employers will be supported throughout.

"We feel it is important to offer this apprenticeship route, as it opens up opportunity for people who want to enter our industry, but do not necessarily want or are able to go down the university route," said Riches. "This is good for young people, and for employers who can access a new pipeline of more diverse talent."

More on recruiting future talent: Meet the class of 2018

Future talent: On course - Where to prepare for a life in events

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