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Happy New (and Improved) Year!

IAEE President and CEO David DuBois discusses the importance of attracting the next generation of the exhibitions and events workforce by helping them understand the career potential the industry holds.

Editorial Note: Originally published in the January 2023 issue of Trade Show Executive magazine.

January delivers a renewed sense of enthusiasm and purpose as we collectively hit the refresh button and look forward to setting, and achieving, new goals. For many of us, it is a respite to take the metaphorical deep breath before diving deep into the many things we want to accomplish in the coming months.

Last year, the trade show industry made significant strides and we are eager to experience even greater progress this year. I am optimistic our industry will emerge stronger and more vibrant than ever in the near future, which brings to mind the responsibility on executive leaders to nurture the future generation of industry professionals.

Workforce development is top of mind for leaders as we battle the disruptions in labor caused by COVID. However, it is not a new platform for IAEE. For nearly 50 years, the Certified in Exhibition Management® (CEM) designation program has contributed to the growth of industry professionals across the globe.

In 2012 we conducted a job analysis initiative that further focused our efforts, leading to various projects including working with the U.S. Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics to create a competency model specifically for our industry. As a result, we expanded our certification journey to include a Workforce Ready Program and CEM Advanced Professional (CEM-AP) certification for our more experienced colleagues. We are now in the process of enhancing our CEM on-demand, semi instructor-led courses into self-paced, student centered programs in response to the current business environment. In addition, we are once again evaluating our industry’s needs and have launched new job analysis/salary surveys to update industry benchmarks, with preliminary results to be published soon.

It goes without saying that among these efforts we are enhancing our events to be more inclusive in order to attract future generations of industry professionals. While we have moved the needle for diversity, equity and inclusion overall, we can do better. I have no doubt we will meet this challenge because we pride ourselves in our industry’s progressive and innovative nature.

I am equally proud of the collaborations among influencers to bolster awareness about our industry’s offerings to the next generation. For example, in November I attended the DECA conference in Washington, DC that attracted more than 1,000 high school students, parents and high school counselors. IAEE continues to engage with DECA’s activities as we believe that educating high school students on the many career opportunities in our industry helps lay the groundwork for them to consider attending hospitality colleges and universities that offer events curricula. As such, we are developing content for DECA high school sponsors and teachers to mobilize these efforts.

This month I challenge executive leaders to attract potential future employees from local educational institutions. Have you reached out to local high schools and colleges or universities to talk about a career in the industry? Do you have internship or work/study opportunities available at your organization? Also, how are you supporting your current workforce in their professional development?

I know I don’t have to tell you how great our industry is or the expanse of career opportunities it holds. This year, let’s excel at sharing this knowledge and securing the next generation of exhibitions and events achievers.

I wish each and every one of you a healthy, happy and prosperous new year!

David DuBois, CMP Fellow, CAE, FASAE, CTA
IAEE President & CEO
Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance Co-President

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