Heath Freeman, director, Pinnacle crew, says recruiting in the crewing industry is rife with challenges, and Brexit could worsen the situation.


People who come to work in crewing often come from two different routes. Many of our English recruits see the job as a stepping stone to get further into the events industry. Perhaps for a career in sound, lighting or production. And, it is a good route to that end, providing quick experience during which you can put your head down and work hard and also network.

Many of our non-English staff see the job as a quick way to earn good money in a relatively short period of time. They enjoy the flexibility it provides, and the chance to see some exciting events up close.

Brexit will without a doubt impact on our sector heavily. We’ve already seen big drop offs in the numbers of Europeans applying for work. I quizzed a variety of people from countries including Romania, Portugal, Italy, and asked if they can tell friends to come over? They say they’re going to Germany and Italy now. It’s more easily accessible, the work is good, the currency strong.

I think we’ll find there’s a lot more choice for Europeans, who are certainly thinking twice. South African employees have dried up completely as they can’t get a working visa anymore. We have a totally open policy if the person is physically fit, and of the right temperament, and can converse effectively in English.

It’s been an exceptionally busy summer for crewing however, and recruitment is an area that has been squeezed due to lack of supply. To compound this fact, we’ve also seen lead times getting shorter and shorter, which often causes panic.

Nowadays, we often recruit twice a week due to the demand, and a lot of that is down to a smaller labour pool or one that’s diluted by more crewing companies.

In the crewing industry it is about personality traits, and we attract  lot of technical people historically, from Italy and Spain and Portugal, Romania etc, and get a lot of sound, aspiring sound technicians, who have studied event management.

We get a lot of people who are technically astute but often they have a lot of other commitments, so if they get a gig as a DJ, they go for that. We can train them up to work effectively in corporate events, and our staff often have a lot of experience.

If you’re friendly, happy, and have a can do attitude that’s important, but also going above and beyond is welcomed by clients. They want people who ask what needs doing.

This is a job where people are often expected to put lives on hold, and work unsociable hours, and work at different venues. It takes a certain type of person to be a crew member, but the romantic idea of events industry is enduring.

Strictly come staffing: Pinnacle has previously worked with Strictly

How to make it in events

Gallowglass runs down six key qualities important for in event staff:

  1. Interpersonal skills

Whatever your role in events, the likelihood is that you will be working as part of a team to ensure an event runs smoothly and successfully. So, developing good interpersonal skills is vital as this will not only enable you to work well with your colleagues but with clients too, helping you to deliver a service that’s both efficient and friendly. From our crewman on the ground to our banksmen behind the scenes, the staff here at Gallowglass work tirelessly with one another to ensure our clients are always happy with the service we provide.

  1. Energy

Whether you’ve been constructing a stage for hours on end or are putting together the finishing touches to a detailed event plan, the events industry is incredibly demanding and requires a high level of energy to be successful. Consequently, if you can bring vitality and dedication to the job, you are sure to thrive in this ever-expanding sector.

  1. Eye for detail

From identifying a spelling mistake on an events crew recruitment advert to unblocking a fire exit at one of the UK’s largest stadiums, a keen sense of observation will enable you to spot problems before they even arise, making our job as event crew providers easier, while enhancing the experience for those attending the events we work at.

  1. Flexibility

Here at Gallowglass, our crewmen get to enjoy being part of a plethora of fantastic events – including concerts, music festivals and sporting events; all as the result of being flexible with their working hours.

  1. Resilience

Resilience is a vital quality that will enable you to work with your colleagues to get a job done, whether that’s putting a stage together at the very last minute or working on an events marketing campaign through the night to ensure it’s nothing but perfect.

  1. The ability to multitask

The likelihood is that multitasking will come in handy whatever your role at Gallowglass. For instance, many of our crewman often come into contact with our clients while setting-up staging or installing projectors, so we look for not only technical capabilities but also social skills, to ensure they reinforce our clients’ trust that we are providing the smartest and most efficient service possible.

Crewing in 2018

Brian Goulding, managing director, Ace Crew Limited on 2018’s crewing climate.

2018 has produced a buzz across the industry. We have seen some ‘smaller’ clients taking on more work and producing their biggest events to date, while larger clients have been busier than ever. Additionally we have had an influx of enquiries/bookings from new clients and a fair number of start-ups, which is pleasing. We have been advising clients to get their orders in early to avoid disappointment, as demand has been far greater than the available staff.

This has been coupled with an exceptionally difficult year for recruitment. With the advent of online job boards and the abundance of available jobs on offer we have found that staff are not committing to the role for a extended period of time. Making this even more challenging is the amount of time required to sift through the multitude of applicants we are receiving, who are often unaware of the job role they have applied for, to find individuals with the personal traits and characteristics we require.