• Apprenticeships Nurture Talent at the Grassroots Level

    POSTED November 7, 2022
  • Apprenticeships Nurture Talent at the Grassroots Level

    POSTED November 7, 2022

It’s been six years since SearchWide Global partnered with Destinations International and the International Association of Venue Managers to create a 600-hour apprenticeship program that would seed a pipeline of diverse talent for the tourism and events industry. With today’s shortage of workers and increasing emphasis on diversity and inclusion, the effort is more relevant than ever.

Starting out with the intent to provide talented apprentices with hands-on professional work experiences, the program is now run by Tourism Diversity Matters (TDM). That organization was founded to empower tourism organizations to strive for excellence when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, says Greg DeShields, TDM executive director. 

“TDM drives organizations forward through four primary pillars of activity: apprenticeships; workforce development; diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies; and research and data,” DeShields explains.

Mike Gamble, president and CEO of SearchWide Global and TDM, says the goal is to make a long-term impact. “We wanted a way to engage with young professionals in a meaningful way and begin to build a diverse talent pipeline of future leaders for our industry,” he says. 

Three apprentices are typically placed at a time. So far, all of them have worked for U.S. employers. Past destinations have included Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Houston, Nashville, and Washington, D.C. Apprenticeships in 2023 are slated for Asheville, Atlanta, Orlando, and Philadelphia, DeShields says. 

Participants can choose from a tourism, hospitality, events, venue, or sports career path, with a Tourism Apprentice Career Track offering three options: destination, sports, and meetings and events. Those in the meetings and events track get hands-on experience communicating with vendors, coordinating event logistics, attending planning meetings, and organizing and purchasing materials and supplies, DeShields says.

However, the program goes beyond simply placing participants with employers. Gamble says that to be truly successful, career planning, ongoing mentorship, support from industry partners, and job placement upon conclusion of the apprenticeship are essential. “Our team at TDM helps to add value in those areas,” Gamble notes.

In addition, organizations participating as primary hosts along with industry partners commit to offering apprentices employment upon completion. For example, Zoe Roberts, now a full-time membership associate at Destination DC, completed an apprenticeship in spring 2022 with Destination DC and was immediately hired there after. 

“I literally graduated on the 20th of May of this year and started full-time (at Destination DC) on the 16th,” says the George Mason University tourism and events management graduate, explaining that the apprenticeship gave her a chance to learn about the way a destination management organization operates day to day. “I wasn’t too familiar with what they did coming into it, so I learned a lot about what they do in the tourism space and how they promote our city.”

Even if she hadn’t been offered a job immediately, she feels it wouldn’t have been long before she would have found work in her chosen field given the experience she received as an apprentice. “Obviously I was really happy they asked me to join their team permanently,” she says. “But I felt even if it hadn’t gone that way, I was prepared with the skills that I needed to get a job in the same space. But I’m happy they asked me to stay.”

She describes what she does as “community outreach,” working with businesses in the region to learn about what they do and helping to promote them. And that’s what it’s all about, to help potential job candidates find satisfying positions in which they can thrive and grow careers. “If we want to truly impact the diversity of leadership in our industry,” DeSheilds says, “we must start at the grassroots level.”



On Nov. 25, the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) released its latest quarterly Meeting Room of the Future Barometer. In a nutshell, the global association reports that the recovery of the meetings and events industry remains on a solid and positive trajectory.

Among the findings:


The Meeting Professionals International Board of Directors has its sights set on 2027. Building on an organizational strategy initially conceived in 2020 by key board, staff, and executive team members, the organization recently solidified its goals for the next five years.

“Over the course of the past two years, the goals were modified based on economic conditions, but those pillars remained intact and were validated by the MPI Board this past September during meetings held in Quintana Roo, Mexico,” says Drew S. Holmgreen, MPI chief branding officer.


The Meetings Mean Business Coalition has announced “Meetings Matter” as the 2023 theme for Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) to be held on March 30. The international day of advocacy showcases the economic and societal importance of face-to-face business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences, and conventions.