The War on Talent and Why the Event Industry Is in a Good Spot

17th May, 2022

The Big Resignation in the US continues in 2022 – it is expected that 23% of the workforce will seek a new job this year, according to research done by ResumeBuilder. The same is happening in Western Europe, with especially young Europeans re-examining their jobs according to research by YPulse. And while the figures in Asia are lower, employers recognise it is hard to attract and retain talent, as discussed during a roundtable organized by PRovokeAP. The common factor? It is no longer about the salary - employees are rethinking not just how they work but why they work. Could this be an opportunity for the event industry?

When talking to CEO’s of convention centres worldwide who have re-opened for business or planning to do so shortly, there is one common topic: the shortage of labour. It is not uncommon to hear statements like: “It is a good thing we can’t work at full capacity yet, because we don’t have the staff to make it happen”. There are several causes for this situation. The two-year standstill resulted into qualified staff leaving the event industry – in some cases, the term ‘brain drain’ has been used. Stageco, one of the world’s biggest stage builders, already sounded the alarm bel: nobody has enough qualified staff for the upcoming concerts and festivals. In addition, the quarantine rules still in place in many countries can have a considerable and unpredictable impact on staff availability. And thirdly: there is of course the impact of The Big Resignation, whereby people question their relationship to work – and here there could be an opportunity for the event industry to attract talent.

When asked why they want to change jobs, salary and benefits of course still play a big role, but less than one would imagine. The research by YPulse showed that salary was the key driver in only 20% of the cases. Other drivers are: no passion for the current job, no sense of purpose, negative impact on mental health or the lack of advancement opportunities.

Talking to the participants of the AIPC talent programme, Future Shapers, on why they like working in the event industry, the exact opposite can be heard – it is all about values like passion, purpose and personal growth. The sense of purpose for example: when you play a role in making COP26 happen, how challenging it might be, the sense of purpose is definitely there - you enable addressing the global climate change in an unprecedented way. How is that for a mental boost? And there are many examples like COP26, where bringing communities together results in innovation, collaboration or breakthroughs which impact people across the globe.

When talking to CEO’s of convention centres worldwide who have re-opened for business or planning to do so shortly, there is one common topic: the shortage of labour.

The second big advantage of the event industry is the wide range of opportunities for personal growth on all types of levels. For me personally, the human side of events – meeting people from different cultures, discovering communities and industries unknown till then, seeing the variety in interactions – has made me grown enormously as an individual. But there are also the various ‘classic’ growth opportunities, both vertical and horizontal. Moving from catering to sales, to operations, to finance? Perfectly possible in a convention centre.

And the third key value is of course passion. Event professionals have a passion for people, and it is a passion which is shared by all parties involved in creating those unique moments which are the hallmark of great events. When the magic of organised events happens, the emotions of the people involved can be best compared to those of the people in the NASA-control room when a rocket is successfully launched – joy, pride, and a sense of belonging to something very special.

After two years, we are about to witness the launch of a very different event industry, focusing on value and purpose. Now, more than ever, the event industry is the place to be for talents. They will be able to use all their creativity and imagination to create organised events of the next level, to ensure these events are truly sustainable and to bond communities by creating unique moments of sharing experiences.

As an industry, we should consider the Big Resignation as a unique opportunity to attract talent looking for purpose, personal growth and passion and we should showcase all the opportunities we can offer. The participants to the AIPC talent programme, Future Shapers, will be part of that effort, as ambassadors and role models. And as the global association of convention centres, AIPC will continue to lead the way in making sure their story is heard.

Article written by Sven Bossu, CEO of AIPC, and originally included in the HQ Magazine #103

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