Are we listening to what industry is saying?

We are often asked… is a Diploma a high enough qualification for entry into the world of event management? Our answer is a resounding YES. Employers of event management graduates are looking for people who are immediately useful to their organisation. That means graduates who possess strong practical skills, know the industry jargon, have had experience working on a number of events, know how to work well in a team and have the confidence and know-how to take initiative.

This leads to the question, “Are College of Event Management qualifications responding to industry needs?” What better way to be sure than to ask some of our industry friends. We asked them which skills are non negotiable for a successful transition into event management and compared their responses to the course content of our qualifications. Let’s have a look at the findings…


Industry need: “Strong communication skills”
“Event managers must be able to talk to everyone on an event, from the guys building sets to the keynote speakers and everyone in between, so communication could not be more important. When I’m hiring I look for energy, initiative and the ability to communicate well. Being confident with your words and your abilities is important, but so is knowing that learning is a huge component of becoming the best you can be!”
Caroline Kennon, CoEM Guest Lecturer

CoEM response: On so many levels, communication is a make or break skill for an event manager. Skills learned in our courses include relationship building, managing business relationships, formal and informal negotiations and addressing the needs of the attendee. Students also learn strong communication and presentation skills by pitching their event concept ideas to a panel of industry representatives. Being a skilled communicator will not only increase a graduate’s chances of success when applying for event roles but will also greatly enhance their value to employers.


Industry need: “Ability to work within and manage a team”
“When working in events it helps to a) like people and be able to get along with lots of different types and b) know that as a team you’re working towards the same goal. It’s invaluable to be flexible and to understand that people work in many different ways. Being able to adapt to that will help an event manager get better results for their team. Building and working within a great team is a fantastic feeling, especially at the end of the day. You may be exhausted, but you did it, and you did it together!”
Emma Walker, She Went Wild

CoEM response: Rarely is an event run by one person so teamwork is a must. Our courses are set up so students feel like they’re working on real event briefs, with briefings, business protocols, professional interaction between staff and peers. Skills learned include interactions within the workplace, methods to motivate and manage others, workplace conduct and managing conflict in an event management context.


Industry need: “Strong organisational skills”
“Organisation is more than just having an itemised ‘to do’ list. It’s about understanding the key objective and desired outcome for the event and organising your event accordingly. It’s about developing a detailed project plan and clearly setting out whole project objectives for the benefit of the client. Organisation means ensuring that all project deliverables, including the project plan and the budgeting align.”
Mandi Ford, Essential Solutions

CoEM response: Organisational and planning skills are central to any event management role. Students learn pre-production in the planning phase of an event including production schedules and the development of event specific production documentation. The Major Project process requires the use of advanced planning and organisation skills combined with detailed knowledge and practical ability.


Industry need: “Up to date event administrative skills”
“My advice to event management students is this: become proficient with IT and administrative skills, as you will always get the job over someone who doesn’t have that skill. And always show enthusiasm and network and volunteer like crazy!”
Patrick O’Reilly, Director Impact Exhibitions and Events

CoEM response: It’s a known fact among professionals that an event is only as good as the Excel spreadsheet it’s run from. Consequently, students learn their way around Microsoft Office with a specific and practical event focus and will also become proficient with computerised reservations systems that teach them to manage the event registration process on-site at an event.


Industry need: “On the job experience”
“For those just starting out in the industry, I am always excited to learn of any volunteer experience they may have. Having managed lots of volunteers in my time, I have a real appreciation for those who put in the hard yards. It’s also how I got my first job!”
Laura Salvatore, Freelance Event Manager

CoEM response: As part of their course, students complete many hours of event work with our Industry Engagement Program. This may come in the form of volunteering, internships or paid work while studying. The large majority of opportunities that are offered to students come from our extensive list of industry partnerships. We have constant feedback from students that the IEP is one of the most valuable parts of the course as it gives valuable experience and connects students directly to industry.


Industry need: “Creativity”
The industry is ever changing so creativity is crucial to remain in demand like “providing guests with an all around experience and combining methods of perception like hearing, touch, smell, and taste. For example: walking through an illuminated forest, in 360 view but experiencing the mist on your face and the smell of fresh pine needles in an urban setting! For graduates…don’t be afraid to put your crazy ideas on the table. You’ll be surprised how refreshing it is for clients to see that you are presenting something a little less mainstream.”
Belinda Collins, Event Producer, The Social Crew and Besser Space

CoEM response: The best events are the ones that offer something a little different. But there’s more to creativity than idea generation. CoEM students learn strategic planning, creative response and feasibility during the event concept development process. They then move on to creative event design and decoration for events in accordance with particular styles of events and event sites.


Check out our new Event Manager BLENDED Program; Event Manager

Event Manager Blended focusses on real event outcomes. Online content is aligned with the process of staging an actual event and covers the most widely recognised skills and mindsets required by industry, some of which we covered in the above post.

Event Manager Blended is a combination of real-world theory, online study, practical on-the-job application and regular ‘on campus’ interaction with your team.

Event Manager Blended was designed in direct response to recent industry consultation. Industry has confirmed the most useful skills and attributes they would like to see from graduates coming out of colleges. We have answered that brief with Event Manager Blended.

Photo credit: Birmingham City University

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