Can you become a competent Event Manager through University teaching alone

Given that I’m a University lecturer, this might initially appear to be a controversial topic to be writing on a University blog, for University students to read – but please bear with me.


As most of you know, here at Sheffield Hallam University, we’re keen for our students to not just gain classroom-based teaching through lectures and seminars.  We want our students to apply this knowledge in the real world – learning through doing, active learning, experiential learning, problem-based learning… whatever you want to call it.


For a discipline such as Events Management this couldn’t be more true.  For me, it is critical that students of Event Management combine their academic learning with real-world industry experience.


And the way I like to consider this balance of the two is by the concept of ‘competency’.


On completion of Level 6, most students will be applying for managerial jobs (whether in the events industry or not) and your competency will be tested in applications and interviews, and compared against fellow candidates.  How competent are you at managing events, managing projects, managing people?  How competent are you, how professional are you?  The answers to these questions will utterly determine your employability (for want of a better word).


The HSE have a really powerful definition of competency; they say it has to include a combination of Knowledge, Skills, Experience and Training (SKET).  Without one of these factors, you cannot be deemed competent.  For events students, I think the SKET approach is a really strong one to reflect on.


Can you really call yourself a *competent* event manager if all you have is classroom-taught knowledge and skills but zero events experience or training?  Equally, if all you have is experience of working events, but none of the knowledge or managerial skills, then will you ever be competent?  The two have to go hand-in-hand with each other.


Without doubt, your academic studies are critically important, and if you want the best jobs, then you need to get a strong degree.  But a degree on its own is no longer enough, especially not in the events industry.


So outside of your degree, what are you going to do, to obtain additional training and experience to prove to future employers of your competence?


David Strafford, September 2017



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