12th March 2014

Nick de Bois calls for more apprenticeships in the event industry

Events minister Nick de Bois spoke to a packed audience at the opening of International Confex at Olympia London. He discussed the industry's response to the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Group's Inquiry into the international competitiveness of the UK events industry, with a panel of industry experts.

Events minister Nick de Bois spoke to a packed audience at the opening of International Confex at Olympia London. He discussed the industry's response to the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Group's Inquiry into the international competitiveness of the UK events industry, with a panel of industry experts.

Nick de Bois explained that apprenticeships are a key part of the government agenda, but there are not enough apprenticeships in the events industry as a whole: "I hold the government's employment programme very highly and believe that we need to look at apprenticeships through a customer's point of view, and ask ourselves 'what's in it for me?'.

"We need to ask why apprenticeships work for this industry, we need to appeal directly to employers and look at the value of internships. They are a wide alternative to university degrees, yet there are not enough apprenticeships in the industry."

Martin Christian-Kent from People1st, an industry expert sitting on the panel, commented: "Historically apprenticeships haven't worked for the events industry. What we need to do is set professional apprenticeship standards in place for this to work. This is a real opportunity to get a simplistic solution in place."

Also on the panel were Tracy Halliwell from London & Partners, Caroline Mackenzie from Contendam, and Simon Gidman from VisitEngland.

Alistair Turner and Richard Foulkes co-chaired the debate and discussed the key recommendations from the inquiry report, including best practices in the events industry, industrial regional partnerships with local authorities, and the industry embracing Ministerial Support Bid initiatives.

The panel also discussed the need for the events industry to unite and be coordinated with one voice.

"The right direction to speak with one voice is to meet in one place, and that place is Confex," said de Bois. "I want to thank Confex for supporting the APPG Inquiry, and thank Mash Media for organising this event. It's a positive step putting the industry all in one place."

Nick de Bois went on to say that he didn't want 2012 to be seen as the peak for events with the Olympics. "It doesn't represent the day to day ongoings of the events industry. We are a living advertisement of why international companies should invest in the UK. We are the showcase for Britain."