5. Best Practice, Innovation and Continuous Improvement
The current national events strategy identifies the need for all relevant agencies to take responsibility for ensuring that Scotland continues to innovate within the events sector and that innovation is supported and nurtured. It also recognises a role for all partners in bringing best practice from around the world and in promoting our own best practice internationally.
To stay at the forefront internationally, events in Scotland will need to innovate and continuously improve in response to new challenges and opportunities. This part of the survey seeks your views on where the strategy could support further innovation and continuous improvement.
5.1 Fair Work and workforce development
Internationally, Scotland's people have a reputation for being hard-working, honest and skilful. Themed Groups recognised the workforce, including the supply chain, as a key strength and area for development.
Over the course of planning and delivery, the workforce supporting an event can change a lot. It can grow from being a small core planning team for most of the year, then balloon into a wider workforce. This ranges from contractors, sponsor activations and other stakeholders through to temporary staff brought in for the day, such as caterers, bar staff and stewards. This means there is a wide variety of experiences, opportunities, qualifications, employment arrangements and pay for those working in events. It also means that people can move into and out of events quite quickly.
We are interested to hear views on how attractive working in the sector is from those with experience of working in events, whatever their role. We are also interested to hear views from those looking at the sector from the outside.
Question 12: Do you think the event sector is an attractive place to work?
- Don't know
Question 13: Please tell us why you selected yes, no or don't know here.
5.1.1 Fair Work practices
We want Scotland to be a leading Fair Work Nation by 2025, where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for individuals, businesses, organisations and society.
In our Refreshed Fair Work Action Plan, we set out the actions we will take to promote fair and inclusive workplaces across Scotland, where workers experience the five Fair Work Dimensions – defined by the Fair Work Convention as Effective Voice, Security, Respect, Opportunity and Fulfilment. A key action includes our strengthened approach to conditionality in public sector funding. From 1 July 2023, all public sector grants will include a requirement to pay at least the Real Living Wage to all employees, and to provide appropriate channels for effective voice.
Themed Groups identified fair work as an important part of attracting people to work in the events sector. This means continuing to implement fair work practices, providing safe and secure working environments and promoting positive workplace cultures where staff are engaged, can make a valued contribution, and have an effective voice.
Question 14: If you work in the event sector, what are your experiences of Fair Work practices in the sector?
Question 15: If you work in the event sector, is there anything you would like to see change in relation to Fair Work practices?
5.1.2 Workforce planning and skills development
Themed Groups suggested that having such a mobile workforce can make it challenging to ensure everyone involved in an event is educated, empowered and accountable. Businesses can find it difficult to justify investing in education and training beyond their core team. Events are competing with each other, other sectors and other countries for staff. A number of sectors that events draw on, such as hospitality, are facing similar recruitment and retention challenges.
Themed Groups identified an opportunity for clear pathways into and through a career in events in response to these challenges, alongside mentoring and good career information and advice. This could attract young people, those who are currently inactive in the labour market, and increase diversity.
Themed Groups also suggested career stability, transferable skills, different working patterns, sharing good practice, and supporting good quality volunteering opportunities were part of this picture. They noted that there was both excellent and more mixed practice around volunteering in the sector, and that there is under-representation of disadvantaged groups in formal volunteering roles. Volunteering delivers economic, health and social benefits, as well as helping people develop skills and increase their employability, but should not be used in place of paid roles.
Question 16: Do you think there are sufficient opportunities to do each of the following? Give an answer of yes, no, or don't know for each:
- learn about what it is like to work in the sector
- gain the skills and experiences you need to work in the sector
- further a career in the sector
- learn from the lessons and good practice of others in the sector
Question 17: How do you think access to these opportunities could be improved?
5.2 Environmental Sustainability
The current strategy states that all events in Scotland must set targets for resource efficiency thereby helping preserve one of Scotland's key assets, our natural environment. At present, there are standards in international event sustainability (ISO 20121). There are a number of initiatives to support individuals and organisations to be more environmentally sustainable, including through Scottish Business Climate Collaboration's Climate Action Hub and Creative Carbon Scotland.
On one hand, Themed Groups identified a desire across the event sector to drive progress in achieving a just transition to net zero. That included innovation and investment already happening in the sector. On the other, they felt that, in general terms, there was still a poor understanding of how to host a sustainable event. This included that sufficient emphasis is not always placed on 'big ticket' items like sustainable transport (and the need to reduce car use), heat and energy use at venues, and catering.
This survey is seeking views on how we can address the challenges outlined below:
- Building skills and expertise. Themed Groups identified a lack of local specialised suppliers as a barrier – both to reducing environmental impact and to maximising local economic benefits from events.
- Accessing and sharing information. Themed Groups said that information being provided by lots of different organisations is resulting in a lack of clarity for the sector. Businesses are also having to find creative solutions to reduce environmental impact around aspects of sponsorship and merchandising. Themed Groups felt that working with one another and collaborating with other sectors could drive improvement.
- Standards and collective practice. Themed Groups felt that there is not yet a standard industry approach to environmental sustainability. A collective code of practice or principles across the sector could improve this and help customers to understand what they need to do more easily. Examples of this might be a charter like the Green Events Code of Vision 2025, or a procurement code or guidelines for events.
Question 18: What do you think would enable events to become more environmentally sustainable?
5.3 Financial sustainability
Events attract income from a number of different streams. These streams vary from event to event but can include ticket sales, sponsorship and grant funding. With our changing context (detail at Annex A), innovation will be needed for events in Scotland to continue to generate sustainable income streams. There is also a role for public policymakers at both national and local level to work with the event industry where there are areas of public value.
Question 19: What sources of income do you think events should be developing to be financially sustainable?
Being able to measure and evaluate progress is critical to innovation and continuous improvement. Being able to evidence impacts can be helpful for some events in securing funding. That said, event organisers do not always have the expertise, capability, or capacity to evaluate effectively. The eventIMPACTS toolkit provides resources to help event organisers across the UK improve their evaluation of the impacts associated with staging sporting and cultural events.
Themed Groups suggested that there were a number of areas where better measurement and tools could support continuous improvement. In turn, this could help highlight where events deliver on wider outcomes for Scotland.
Question 20: What would support the event sector to measure the importance of events?
Question 21: We would welcome evidence on the measurable impacts of events, particularly those held in Scotland. This could include, but is not limited to impacts on:
- Local business
- Job opportunities
- Opportunities for participants to develop skills
- Health and wellbeing of individuals or groups
- Community connections and cohesion
- Promoting diversity
- Profile and promotion of your area
Please go to the next question (question 22) if this is not relevant to you.
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