Training the next generation
As UFI rolls out its new UFI Certified Professional training , we ask a selection of UFI members – what skills is the industry missing ? Stuart Wood writes
f all the changes which the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the world of business , perhaps the most long-lasting effect will be the shift to remote working . While some companies have eagerly brought employees back into offices when they were able to , there is a growing consensus that more flexibility is needed .
One of the great challenges that comes with remote working , however , is managing people . How do you train employees remotely ? How do you bring new employees into the fold , and how can they experience company culture through a two-inch rectangle on a Zoom call ?
UFI , the global association of the exhibition industry , has recognised the changing landscape of HR in the events industry , and is now offering a training certification called the UFI Certified Professional , or UCP . For this article , we spoke to some UFI members with key roles in training and teaching positions , to hear firsthand how they see the world of HR changing , and what our industry needs to do to keep up . We also hear from UFI about what its new certification entails , and why it is so important .
Robert Heinemann is founder and CEO of Heinemann Management Consulting , as well as vice-chair of the UFI HR working group . He says he has seen a lot of change in HR departments over a very short span of time : “ As HR teams have worked from home - and in many cases still are working from home - processes had to be streamlined .
“ The best way to do this is digitalisation . I know it is a buzz word these days , but HR was in a lot of cases not particularly modern . The pandemic worked as a catalyst and brought up the need for HR to do things differently .”
Heinemann says that in order to enable remote working in the future , all companies should have some form of ‘ smart working policy ’ which tells employees exactly what is expected of them if they are working from home . “ A good SWP also helps to retain employees and to engage / motivate candidates joining the company , by increasing the attractiveness of the position ,” he adds .
The attractiveness of flexible working could be crucial to recruiting talented young people into the events industry . Cinzia Zanin , who is a coordinator and tutor at Italy ’ s Accademia Fiera Milano and a former recipient of the UFI Next Generation Leaders grant , sees this as one of the biggest challenges the events industry is facing today .
Zanin says : “ This issue was important before the pandemic , but now it is even more so . It is especially hard to attract talent with a STEM education , because there is a high demand of specific skills and not many people have them . Other industries , especially tech , hire them even before the end of their studies with a promise of a high salary and the opportunity to work in globally recognised companies . If we try to attract them after graduation , it is already too late . We need to think of new programmes and solutions .”
The Accademia Fiera Milano ’ s ‘ Progea ’ course offers students a one-year long masters that prepares them to work in the exhibition and conference industries . It is split down the middle , with six months in class and then a six-month long internship . “ Our model is like a laboratory ,” says Zanin . “ A large
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