Jess Shields, director and founder of global production and creative agency Far and Beyond, says that now more than ever the events industry must invest in and nurture the next generation of events professionals.

The UK music scene is well and truly back with a vengeance. It feels like every artist on the planet is touring, an era of new festivals has been born, and every patch of useable greenfield space is hosting an event. It’s great, and it’s scary at the same time.

It may not be sustainable, and one thing is clear – we are all struggling under the lack of infrastructure. It seems to be all we are all talking about at the moment; not a day goes past where I don’t get a desperate text within an industry WhatsApp group from someone asking if anyone knows how to get hold of last-minute toilets, or tentage, or haulage.

But what about lack of human resource? And experienced humans at that. Everyone is stretched, and there simply isn’t going to be enough of us to keep up with the demand.

It’s important that we take the time to introduce some new blood into the industry. So where does this new blood come from? And more importantly, what are we doing to nurture and develop the people who want to learn, instead of just throwing them in at the last minute and seeing if they sink or swim?

For me, the qualifications that someone has are not hugely important when taking on a recruit but more so their willingness to get stuck in and learn the hard graft on the ground. I think it takes a certain mindset to be able to leave any expectations of glamour at the door, and embrace the reality of the long hours, literal cabin fever, and (often) waterproof trouser life that is working on events. Thrive within that environment and you’re a keeper.

As an industry I think we need to ask ourselves; are we doing enough to look after our people? Or are we all so hooked on the fact that any newbies to the game should be grateful to have broken into this in-demand industry so we don’t feel the need to nurture them the way that we should? Are we all so busy that we don’t have the time to pay attention to who

is doing well, and who’s struggling to keep up? And, are our expectations of people out of date when it comes to the hours we expect them to work?

The entertainment industry still has a way to go to get up to speed when it comes to culture within the workplace, but developing and retaining good people is a benefit to us all and we need to do our part to make the improvements.

Eight months ago, I brought on board a head of people and culture to Far and Beyond, and I can say without doubt that it has been the best investment I’ve made as a business owner. As an outsider to the industry, she looks on everything with a fresh pair of eyes. She has brought about changes and introduced regulations to the company that I would not have considered necessary but now would not operate without. It’s true that what you put in is what you get out, and by putting the time and resource into looking after the welfare of our team, the results have been unquestionable.

There’s more to do, and we are by no means ahead of the curve yet, but it’s something I’m keen to prioritise within Far and Beyond, and the industry as a whole.