Chris Criscione: A working model

lightbulb-NEW-resized.jpg

Chris Criscione, MD of Equinox Design and vice chair of ESSA asks are we getting the skills we need?

 

Every industry thinks of itself as unique, and this is true, to a degree. Each industry requires a particular subset of skills that cannot be found elsewhere, in addition to the transferable skills and general knowledge that span its business sector. The exhibition industry requires a very particular skill set, as a result of its end product having such a short, fixed, lifespan.

 

Our industry delivers amazing experiences for exhibitors and visitors alike, but there’s a growing scarcity in the exhibition industry of people entering the industry with the necessary expertise, in disciplines from design to construction. They appear to be looking elsewhere for their careers.

 

The rise of experiential captured the imagination of many, and experiential campaigns are still being deployed by marketers across many industries. Experiential is the latest in a long list of new marketing activities that would, we were assured, spell the end of the exhibition.

 

Even within our industry we have seen trends like this come and go; Hugh Keeble and I sat on a panel over a decade ago, not long after the launch of the Easyfairs model, where he declared that the days of large exhibitions with a spectacular visual experience were at an end. Yet over the last ten years we have actually seen the growth and geo-cloning of some of this industry’s best shows, and no end of the spectacular visual experience is yet in sight.

 

Delivering these international landmark events requires knowledge, qualifications and skills across all of the disciplines deployed, but Hugh’s prediction may yet come true if we can’t address the growing shortage of qualified personnel applying for these key roles.

 

As an example, consider the role of exhibition stand designer; the person whose creativity and design sensitivities are crucial to the creation of an effective stand. University courses in stand design have closed, and those that are still running are reporting low student numbers.

 

Courses stopped at Hull and transferred to Lincoln University some years ago, reducing choice and, although the Lincoln course is still running, it now focuses more on museum design and less on commercial exhibition design. Overall, UK student numbers for exhibition design have dropped over the past 20 years from over 30 people graduating with specific exhibition design skills, down to just a few individuals today.

 

Graphic design and interior design was very popular a few years ago, then website design began to draw large numbers of creative career starters, and this was followed by games and interactive design. All of these new disciplines attracted creative designers that could have pursued a career in exhibition design.

 

The few that do find their way into our industry often need retraining on the job in order to acquire the knowledge and understanding that should be part of a dedicated degree course, unfortunately, industry standard CAD/IT skills are not even taught to the basic level required.

 

Many designers look to London as the epicenter of their industry, yet there are plenty of thriving creative companies outside the capital that work with international brands in the UK and abroad. Perhaps it’s the chance of international work for blue chip brands that can attract the best talent into the regions, but we do need to find a way to work with our education establishments to make sure that exhibition design is an exciting and vibrant option when choosing a design discipline.

 

If we can do this then we may have started to address one of the skill shortages that is facing the exhibition industry.

 

 

What are your thoughts #eventprofs? Email abyrne@mashmedia.net and get the discussion going.

Chris Criscione
Posted by Chris Criscione
PopularComments
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

AEV publishes Size and Scale Index of Events

The Size and Scale Index of Events (SASiE) has published its latest report analysing the data collected over 2015 from the participating venues and organisers.

SMG Europe appointed operator of AECC

Aberdeen City Council has appointed venue operator SMG Europe to manage the existing Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) ahead of the move to its new purpose-built home in 2019.

QEII adds £100m to economy, finds report

The QEII Centre generated £218m of gross UK expenditure in 2015/16, creating a GVA (Gross Value Added) of £100m, according to a new economic impact study.

Others on EN

National mourning

National mourning

Mark Blair, divisional director of InEvexco, considers the insurance implications of the death of a monarch.
David's Inferno: The comfort zone

David's Inferno: The comfort zone

In the first of his new series of monthly columns, Cvent’s senior marketing director David Chalmers says it’s important to break out of the comfort zone.
Show or tell?

Show or tell?

Roopi Woodall, marketing manager at the QEII Centre, asks if the art of conversation on social media is dead – and how to engage with audiences if that’s the case.

The Showlite Heroes

Most Read Stories

Fit for the 21st century

Fit for the 21st century

Andrew Harrison, ESSA director, says we should always fight to bring talent into the industry and encourage an appetite for success.
I'm a believer

I'm a believer

Sam Cande, group commercial director at Centaur Media, says no secret sales technique can compete with belief in a product.
Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry, director of Easyfairs UK addresses the science behind operations and the profile of our audiences.

Latest News

Eventcity to host Digital Kids Show

Eventcity to host Digital Kids Show

Manchester has been chosen to host a line-up of famous YouTubers in November, as part of the all-inclusive family day out Digital Kids Show.
Successful 2nd outing for ChileCare Expo Manchester

Successful 2nd outing for ChileCare Expo Manchester

On 16-17 June, Childcare Expo Manchester opened its doors for the second time for its return at EventCity, welcoming 1,686 visitors to the venue.
Messe Frankfurt records highest ever result in 2016

Messe Frankfurt records highest ever result in 2016

Trade fairs are still going from strength to strength in Frankfurt 777 years after the first event of this kind was held there, with sales of over €650m planned in 2017

Latest Features

Lights up

Lights up

As Showlite celebrates its 25th birthday, founder Paul Wicks looks back on the company’s history and reflects on the industry.
Waste not, want not

Waste not, want not

Soraya Gadelrab, portfolio director – food, drink & packaging at Fresh Montgomery, on the organiser’s partnership with charity City Harvest.
Right on the money

Right on the money

After teaming up with Prysm Group to run Accountex 2016, Diversified Communications has taken the reins for this year’s show.

Latest Galleries

London Dungeon Lates

London Dungeon Lates

The London Dungeons has launched a unique nighttime experience with the theme of the seven deadly sins. The adults only tour includes seven themed food offerings and a range of themed drinks.
This Morning Live

This Morning Live

Tens of thousands of fans descended on the NEC on 18-21 May for This Morning Live, to see talent from ITVs award-winning daytime programme arrive in style.
Ideal Home Show Scotland

Ideal Home Show Scotland

The Ideal Home Show return to Glasgow for its 70th Anniversary on 26-29 May, introducing the all-new Eat & Drink Festival to Scottish fans.