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How can we attract and retain young talent? Top takeaways from The Meetings Show

Sledge MD, Sarah Yeats and Caitlin Kobrak, Co-Founder of Event First Steps delivered their session on attracting and retaining young people to the industry at The Meetings Show last week.

Here are some of their key takeaways, which you can apply to your agency, business or career today.

Re-thinking who we target

When it comes to targeting young people and Gen Zs, it’s important to not only focus on university aged students, but those in school too. By educating them about the nature of the events industry, especially the fact that they don’t necessarily need to be based in a particular location (in part thanks to the rise of virtual and hybrid events) or have funds to support themselves while they fulfil volunteer work, and that a degree isn’t necessarily a requirement, we’ll open the sector up to a whole new group of talented young people.

The practical element is key

Many university courses focus on the theory, and there aren’t always plentiful opportunities for students to get out on-site and work at agencies or within event departments at larger organisations. By adding more practical modules and allowing them to experience the industry first-hand whenever possible, we’ll enable young people to gain a real understanding of the various elements that are involved in producing events, and in doing so, allow them to see just how varied the industry is, and how many opportunities there are within it.

Invite young people to come to us

From casual coffee mornings at our offices to one-to-one catch ups, we should find ways to engage with young people in our own environments. These organic settings and the conversations that arise as a result will allow them to freely ask questions and gain career advice, especially if they aren’t exactly sure what they want to do, or which aspect of the industry they wish to pursue.

The value of an industry-wide programme

What if we all came together to create a programme that enabled young people to gain broad experience and exposure, and allowed all agencies and organisations to take part, regardless of their size or area of expertise? We could adjust timings and placement lengths depending on key projects and companies’ ability to commit, ensuring everyone can get involved in one way or another, while providing students with invaluable experiences and access to the day-to-day happenings within our businesses and the wider industry.

Get creative with how we recruit

The industry is really great when it comes to thought leadership and information sharing, however let’s explore fresh, new ways to connect with young people. We’re very creative when we’re pitching new ideas and event concepts to our clients, yet the way we recruit doesn’t always reflect this. Let’s explore ways to infuse creativity into this process too, whether that’s through creating ‘a day in the life’ videos and content, or looking to platforms like TikTok where young people naturally hang out, and producing authentic content for them to engage with there.

Find ways to empower

Young people are no doubt tech savvy, and they bring fresh ideas to the table both when it comes to our own businesses and careers, and our clients’ projects. There’s a lot even the most experienced industry professionals can learn from young people, so we should empower them to share their thoughts and experiences, get them involved in brainstorming sessions and pitches, and give them key responsibilities so they feel as though they are adding value and giving back.

Interested in learning more about this topic or taking action?

Watch the full session here, and get in touch with Sarah at!


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