New Programme Launched for Developing Management Skills in the Events Industry.

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The first programme of its kind to run at a local business school, it will play a role in building capacity so that South Africa can host 2010 FIFA World Cup events with aplomb and also fully capitalise on event hosting opportunities post-2010.

The Event Management Post Graduate Diploma in Management, run by the UCT GSB’s Corporate Learning division, ran its first module from 27 October - 03 November. Students will complete a total of three modules over the 15 month programme.

Ivor Blumenthal, CEO of the Services SETA, said that the SETA was delighted to have partnered with the UCT GSB, a leading internationally rated South African business school, in developing and offering the qualification to its member industry, namely the events industry.

"For too long now the event management industry has been viewed as not consisting of professional practitioners and this project is allowing the Services SETA to correct that national and international misperception,' he said.

Blumenthal added that the Services SETA had made a discretionary bursary funding allocation which is commensurate with the importance with which the country rated the industry.

According to Devan Naicker, Deputy CEO: Strategy at the Services SETA, the events industry is an emerging industry that can contribute greatly to a number of strategic national objectives.

"There is huge potential for the industry to be a major driver of economic growth, job creation and social upliftment. The Services SETA is extremely pleased to partner with UCT to develop this customised management programme to bolster and elevate skills in the industry,' he said.

Naicker said that the aim was to build capacity and create a large pool of event specialists, not only in the lead up to 2010, but also in terms of the long-term future of events in South Africa.

"The industry is evolving and SA is being recognised as a major events player internationally. We believe SA has a competitive advantage - we can offer a first class experience combined with exotic attractions that can’t be replicated in the US or Europe. SA offers a rich cultural experience to delegates and can cater for varying needs. To nurture and grow this trend there is a need to develop skills across all levels of the sector.'

"In addition, we want to that start defining the industry as an attractive occupation that one can aspire to be part of,' he said.

The Services SETA is now conducting research to inform the dti of the industry’s potential and also identifying all the key occupations for the industry using the Organising Frameworks for Occupations (OFO) model promoted by the Department of Labour.

Naicker said that events have a multiplier effect - providing income and acting as a catalyst for many other industries such as tourism, cleaning, catering, security, transportation, logistics and decor. SMMEs in particular can stand to benefit.

Smaller scale national, regional and community events such as marriages or conferences also have the potential for the same multiplier effect, he added.

In terms of the 2010 World Cup, Naicker said that the events industry must grow so such that the infrastructure for 2010 does not become a white elephant. "It is critical to leverage what we have done for 2010 so that further socio-economic growth and social upliftment is possible,' he said.

According to student Peta Thomas, CEO of Total Impact Communications, the programme is a landmark initiative and recognises the huge potential of events to grow the economy.

"This programme will make an invaluable contribution to growing capacity. It is a huge step for the industry - the support and recognition of the Services SETA is a tremendous accelerant that will ensure South Africa’s event managers harness every opportunity on offer and make them a success,' said Thomas, who is the Skills Development Liaison member of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) which has also voiced strong support for the programme.

She continued, "SAACI encourages every member of the events industry to participate in continued professional development such as is being provided by this UCT GSB qualification.'

The first module, she added has been an extraordinary experience. "The learning has been highly experiential, and the lecturers hard-hitting and to the point. It has also been a rare and valuable experience to interact, network and learn with a group of peers who have so much experience to share as well.'

For details on the programme, contact the Services SETA on 011 276 9600 or visit www.serviceseta.org.za.