Trailblazers scheme marks key change for industry, says First Protocol's Mark Riches

First Protocol managing director and chair of the Trailblazers Industry Advisory Board, Mark Riches, speaks to C&IT about the final stages of the events apprenticeship scheme and the challenges faced.

First Protocol's Mark Riches
First Protocol's Mark Riches

When can we expect the first Trailblazers apprentices to be hired?

The Trailblazers apprenticeship standard was approved by the government in February, so we are now in the final stages. We need to finalise the assessment standards of the apprenticeship, before we can get the final government approval and start receiving funding for the scheme. This stage is less complicated than the standard approval, so I don’t anticipate it will take too long. I hope that we’ll be taking on apprentices by October, at the start of our financial year. It’s a great time as there’ll be lots of school leavers looking for their first jobs over the summer period.

What are the key challenges of introducing the standardised apprenticeship scheme?

The biggest challenge is that there’s really nobody to help you. We’re experts in events, but we’re not experts in apprenticeships so it’s been a learning curve. It’s involved a huge amount of commitment and hard work from everyone involved, to produce a standard that meets the needs of event planners in the industry and that is comprehensive for the young people who need to read and understand it.

What will it mean for the events industry?

I feel like the new apprenticeship scheme is one of the most important changes to our sector. It offers a completely new route into the industry, which will hopefully increase social mobility and give people who can’t afford to go to university the opportunity to enter the industry. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small or a large agency, you’ll receive support for the scheme. Our industry can be quite fragmented, with all the different industry associations such as ISES and EVCOM. I believe this standardised apprenticeship scheme will help to unify the industry through fresh talent. 

More:

In Pictures: Trailblazers apprenticeship scheme's advisory board meeting

Trailblazers Apprenticeship scheme calls for agency participation

Industry to create new 'manifesto' for event education

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