LIVE ISSUE: Survey reveals training dearth. Our latest survey has found almost two out of three companies have no training scheme and that the gender gap still persists. Mike Fletcher analyses the figures

Does your company have a training scheme? A staggering 64% of

respondents to the 2001 Marketing Event salary and lifestyle survey said

the company they worked for had no form of in-house training. In an

industry where training and recruitment is top of the agenda, this is a

worrying statistic.



The survey, which was carried out with sponsor ESP Recruitment and

Digitab, also revealed that more people are joining and enjoying the

flexibility of different careers within the events and exhibitions

industry as a result of better job-related qualifications and the

introduction of event management degrees at some universities.



A lack of appraisal



In last year's survey, respondents cited changing career to join or move

within the event industry, as the third most popular reason for leaving

their last job. This year it was the second most popular reason with 21%

of respondents leaving their last job to work in events, exhibitions or

conferences. However, it must be of some concern that one quarter of

respondents to our survey still have no formal appraisal within the

workplace.



"I don't believe in formal appraisals and think companies should be

talking to their staff continually so I'm not concerned by this

finding," says Association of Exhibition Organisers director-general

Trevor Foley. "The more worrying trend is the lack of in-house training

as this is often more important to people than salary."



ESP Recruitment director Liz Sinclair partially agrees. "Companies

should be continually talking to staff, but in the events industry this

isn't always feasible ," says Sinclair. "People spend a lot of time out

of the office at events, on site visits and seeing clients. If companies

want to keep their staff, I believe there should be at least one formal

appraisal a year, where employers and employees set aside time to have a

two-way conversation, discussing performance as well as the employee's

future career path."



Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents to the 2001 Marketing Event

salary and lifestyle survey were female, while 38% were male. The women

predominantly work in corporate in-house events teams - 73% of female

respondents were from this sector. The exhibition industry is still

male-dominated however and 31% of male respondents work in an exhibition

capacity. In-house event teams only comprised 17% of the total male

response.



Driven towards rewards



According to the results, this trend has hardly changed over the past

five years. Women have traditionally gone into event organising and

marketing areas whereas men have been driven towards the business

development and financial rewards offered by exhibition sales and

production.



"Women have always been attracted to event work because it is viewed as

the more glamorous side of the industry," says Spectrum Recruitment

event consultant Lesley Duguid. "They aspire to work in-house for large

corporate companies because the money is better and it's considered an

easier ride.



"I'd say about 80% of our candidates are female and the men who approach

us are more interested in production and sales. I've been surprised

therefore that the graduates coming out of this year's specialist

courses are split 50/50 between male and female."



The introduction of these courses together with a higher standard of

education obtained before entering the industry looks likely to result

in a shift in this sort of stereotyping.



"Event management degrees give the pupils a better chance of getting the

graduate jobs," says Sinclair. "Rather than having to start in

administration, they are going straight into a hands-on events role from

day one."



Climbing the ladder



The high male take-up on these courses seems to be providing men with an

interest in the organisation of event management and the better

qualified women are fighting harder to climb the ladder and fill senior

roles in exhibitions that are traditionally held by men.



"It depends on the show but we are starting to find it easier to place

more women in more senior positions within exhibition organisers," says

Dragon Fly recruitment director Bill Pretty.



ESP's Sinclair notes that in many companies the roles of sales and

logistics are being combined to benefit the client.



"Candidates are leaving jobs with broader skills and greater opportunity

to choose whether they want to go down the sales or logistics path in

their next role," she says. "More women are now working in exhibition

sales, marketing and logistics. The exhibition services sector has

always been very male-dominated however and this shows little sign of

changing."



Two further trends highlighted by the survey include more overseas

events and an increase in Internet use. About 10% of all Internet

traffic is thought to be job-related and an increase in web literacy has

seen more virtual shows and more company web sites offering extended

services.



In last year's survey, in answer to the question 'Are you personally

involved in organising events overseas?' 56% said no and 43% said

yes.



This year, 53% said they were involved in overseas events.



"This is a very valid trend, as clients often require potential

employees to have excellent overseas destination knowledge, experience

of organising overseas events and sometimes even a European language,"

notes Sinclair.



Regarding the all-important issue of pay, next month's Live Issue will

provide a breakdown of average earnings so you can see if you are being

paid what you are worth.



"Certain industries are booming at the moment, such as the

pharmaceutical industry," says Sinclair. "Event management companies

will pay more for staff with experience of these types of events and

understanding of the clients. Similarly, the financial institutions

prefer candidates with experience of financial events and thus will pay

a premium for staff."



If you can't wait until next month, the results of the 2001 Marketing

Event salary survey will also be published at the Career Pavilion, also

sponsored by ESP Recruitment at the National Venue Show at the NEC on

11-13 September.



OPINION



Laura Moody, marketing manager, Nomadic Display



Just as there are no hard and fast rules for the career paths of women

in general, the same is true for women working within the exhibiting

industry.



Looking across the gender balance at Nomadic, it is exactly 50% male and

50% female. Women do occupy some senior positions in Nomadic's

management team including myself, marketing manager Anna Davies and

sales director Louise Everett. Our worldwide president, Patricia Goeke,

is also female.



At this point in time, Nomadic is a predominantly female-led company,

but the predominance of senior female figures in Nomadic UK has not been

through any affirmative action policies, it is simply the result of hard

work from individuals who have worked their way up through the

organisation.



Specific departments show some gender variation. Business development at

Nomadic is predominantly female-led as is Nomadic's sales team - more

than two-thirds of consultants are women and the department is headed by

a female sales director. Sales roles at Nomadic tend to be very

consultative, creative and demand highly developed organisational

skills. Some might say these attributes are stronger in women.



As with many UK companies government legislation has meant the

exhibition industry is beginning to respond to the needs of women in the

workplace. This is not specific to the exhibition industry.



Production, by contrast, seems to be a male-led area at Nomadic and

across the rest of the industry. This may be down to the technical level

of the role.



Male presence may also be stronger in custom-build exhibition companies

as custom-build and modular display systems differ - custom-build is

physically more demanding; a difference between "building" and

"dressing" if you like.



It is also clear from being on-site in a number of exhibition halls that

construction teams, whether they work for a custom house or the

exhibition organiser, are very male-oriented environments.




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