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The future of volunteering in events management education

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  • Presenting the context of an research project at its beginingsIntern Nation – flurry of media reportsHE White Paper
  • The shifting political climate and increased labour-market competition is presenting new challenges for university business schools and their post-1992 mandate to provide education for jobs. The new political context in the UK and increased labour-market competition during the economic crisis are deepening and accelerating the trend for post-1992 business schools to see themselves as the
  • skills engine of the economy, providing graduates and carrying out research that meets the instrumental educational agenda of successive administrations.
  • Since their relatively recent inception, university programmes such as events management degrees have emphasised the importance of the provision of practical experience alongside academic study. Part of such provision has increasingly involved outsourcing skills training to private events companies in the form of the faciliation of volunteering opportunities. This trend has been conveniently augmented by the coincidental promotion of societal discourse concerning volunteering by prominent organisations such as the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and, most recently, through the 'Big Society' agenda, both of which attempt to valorise unpaid work.
  • Since their relatively recent inception, university programmes such as events management degrees have emphasised the importance of the provision of practical experience alongside academic study. Part of such provision has increasingly involved outsourcing skills training to private events companies in the form of the faciliation of volunteering opportunities. This trend has been conveniently augmented by the coincidental promotion of societal discourse concerning volunteering by prominent organisations such as the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and, most recently, through the 'Big Society' agenda, both of which attempt to valorise unpaid work.2012 – 250,000 applications for 70,000 LOCOG postsUnknown amount of 2012 associated free labour21% drop in paid internships since 2008interns as unpaid labourYouGov Poll in April, 20% firms admitted they recruit Spread to all parts of the white collar workforce, but tends not to happen in unionised workforces in the public sector, but common in whitehallIn US – 50% of all graduates work for free in 2008, 17% in 1992Pulsating organisations (Toffler 1990)
  • Since their relatively recent inception, university programmes such as events management degrees have emphasised the importance of the provision of practical experience alongside academic study. Part of such provision has increasingly involved outsourcing skills training to private events companies in the form of the faciliation of volunteering opportunities. This trend has been conveniently augmented by the coincidental promotion of societal discourse concerning volunteering by prominent organisations such as the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and, most recently, through the 'Big Society' agenda, both of which attempt to valorise unpaid work.
  • However, definitions of what constitutes volunteering wildly vary. Little is often known about what volunteering activities are undertaken by volunteers at events (Baum and Lockstone, 2007). Even less information has been provided about the actual outcomes of volunteering in practice (Bladen, 2008). Even media reports about volunteering at the same event appear to contrast markedly based upon the onthology of their authors (Bladen, 2010). Though models regarding the educational and societal effectiveness of volunteering to promote volunteering itself have been proposed (e.g. Bladen, Kennell et al, forthcoming) little evidence has been provided to support them. Whilst it is suggested that without volunteers, many events would simply not take place (Cuskelly, Hoye et al, 2006) there is also some question about the ethics of expecting often the least privileged students to work for free in order to gain the experiences necessary to be able to effectively compete for future paid employment.
  • This is a global issueIn the US – InternshipsDisney – 7-8,000 interns working from summer placements, through to credit replacing periodsSupplied by network of HEIs in 19 countriesIssues of language very important:Volunteering / Placements – not covered by minimum wage actInternships = are covered by minimum wage act following Employment Tribunal decision in 2009 - however, continuing free labourendorsed by HEIs
  • In the light of these apparent inconsistencies, this paper proposes that it appears shortsighted that international vocational event management degrees continue to use the present, unregulated and largely undefined model of volunteering as a de-facto entry requirement to the events "profession" and poses the following questions:- To what extent will learners remain as willing to volunteer facing annual tuition fees as high as £9k? - Can employers continue to expect to use universities as recruiting grounds for events without providing measureable learning outcomes? How would increased requirements to provide these curtail events employers’ willingness to offer volunteering opportunities? - In an economy of declining graduate job prospects, are new university business schools creating downward pressure on the wages of students from disadvantaged backgrounds who they seek to support, by providing graduate employers with cheap, unregulated labour?

Transcript

  • 1. Slaves becoming masters?The future of volunteering in events management education
    Charles Bladen & James Kennell
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4. Traditional vocational model
    Employers
    HEI
    Partnership
    Academic study
    Practical experience
    Synergy
    Events Management graduate
  • 5.
    • Massive increase in supply of volunteering opportunities
    • 6. Growth of internship route
    • 7. Economic crisis = costs savings
    • 8. Direct access to students via social media and direct marketing
    • 9. Pulsating organisations
    • 10. Big society?
    • 11. Pressures on HE
    • 12. Increased teaching workloads
    • 13. Increase in student numbers
  • Current scenario
    Employers
    HEI
    Academic study
    Practical experience
    Events Management graduate
  • 14. Why does this matter?
    Little is known about volunteering activities at events (Baum and Lockstone 2007)
    Little research into volunteer outcomes (Bladen 2008), let alone contribution to HE achivement
    Accounts of volunteering vary dramatically (Bladen 2010)
  • 15. Isn’t it up to students to work this out?
    HEIs give time, resources and access to employers
    HEIs develop skills of potential volunteers
    HEIs often make work experience central to assessments
    Resources to manage ‘placements’ vs. ‘volunteering opportunities’
    Duty Of Care issues unresolved
  • 16. Future
    • Impacts of volunteers and interns on employment markets
    • 17. Increased pressure on HEIs to demonstrate work experience opportunities and employability (HE white paper)
    • 18. Access to volunteering unevenly distributed socially – espec after £9K fees rise?