You may feel that quarantine has upended your life, but what about those young people who have just started their events careers?

“We currently have 30 event apprentices on programme, “ explained David Preston, CEO of Realise, the biggest provider in the UK. “Currently 25 have been furloughed, and all are working from home. Those of us of a certain age have lived through all sorts of challenges; wars, terrorism, recession, ash clouds and the like; but we’ve no experience of this, so it’s even more of a challenge for Millennials who have known nothing comparable.”

Realise implemented a number of strategies to support the apprentices. “We dramatically increased the number of coaching calls, and implemented a virtual ‘coffee morning’ the first week of lockdown,’ explained C.O.O. Richard John.  “These quickly expanded to quiz nights and cocktail evenings, to maintain morale.” He added, “as the apprenticeship is Further Education they were all able to continue their studies, and we have a Learning Management System which has proved invaluable. We also provide a regular news digest so they have a summary of what is happening within the industry sent to them via WhatsApp.”

“We are doing everything we can to allay their fears,” added David Preston. “However, the reality is that recovery is going to be a challenge.”

We spoke to several who are undertaking their first roles whilst undertaking their event apprenticeship with Realise.

“To be honest, I did feel a blow to my confidence when I was furloughed,’ said Isabel Claridge from Estee Lauder.” However, the good news is I have been able to continue working on my apprenticeship, enabling me to stay productive during my time off. Another plus is that I have got ahead with my apprenticeship studies.” Caitlin Spicer of IWM Events had a similar view. ”The Learning Management System (LMS) has given me something to keep me occupied, and I actually enjoyed switching to Zoom to undertake the workshops which we normally did live.” Her fellow apprentice Ruby Wright agreed. “ I loved having my apprenticeship work to do whilst I was on furlough. It gave me a routine and a sense of accomplishment each day. Having a Coach who regularly keeps in touch and who has organising virtual get-togethers has been really valuable in keeping morale high.”

Emma Willis of Channel 4 agrees. “Having apprenticeship work to do has helped the days that could have been extremely boring, go by quicker and given them structure. Setting aside a few hours to focus on my learning has also helped me mentally, and it gives me something to talk about during weekly catch-ups with my team.”

“Initially it was difficult adjusting to life as an apprentice on furlough,“ said Grace Seal who works at the O2 academy in Brixton, “but I’ve learned to appreciate a more relaxed way of life and it’s given me time to focus on the apprenticeship assignments.” Grace went on; “I’ve even worked on my own specialised project ‘Sustainability in The Events Industry’ which is something I am going to take forward to my manager when I’m back to work and see if I can implement it in my venue.’ 

Gabi Ragonezi of Google avoided furlough, but was still having to work from home. “Despite not being able to work on events, this lockdown period has helped me  advance on the apprenticeship journey. With the extra time my Coach has been sharing a wealth of articles so that I can master everything I need to know, in anticipation of getting more practice.”

Harriet Booth of Revolution Events is another technology fan. “Using Zoom is an excellent way of having a face to face meeting to discuss coursework on the LMS; in a busy office environment it can be hard to find a quiet 5 minutes.“ She has found it strange adjusting to ‘the new normal.’ “Initially it came as a bit of shock. Reading the news didn’t really make it feel real. It was a strange time. Working from home was great, and then came furlough. As time has gone on, I do have a few moments of worrying. I have had a few days where I’ve thought that I might not go back to work.” She added, “I’ve been telling myself that things will get back to a new normal sometime in the future. I just have to keep going and enjoy the time that I am lucky to be having off and still being paid. I think you have to tell yourself that its only for a number of weeks, not the rest of our lives.”