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IPM 11: Supply & Demand: An imbalance?

The final panel of the 11th ILMC Production Meeting tackled the production industry's ever-escalating personnel problem

By IQ on 07 Mar 2018

IPM 11: Supply & Demand: An imbalance?

Chair: Tony Hayes, Arena Birmingham (UK)

Guest speakers:
Julia Frank, Wizard Promotions (DE)
Ollie Kite, Transam (UK)
Meagan Walker, Rod Laver Arena (AU)
Tamás Szabó, Intellitix (HU)

Tackling the all too real dilemma of a lack of trained and skilled personnel, the final IPM session of 2018 saw Hayes lead a discussion about how the production industry, and all its constituent parts, can remain sustainable future by ensuring that future next generation of staff are coming through the ranks.

Szabo confirmed that Intellitix, like most companies in the live music industry, suffers from a lack of skilled staff during the summer season. “We need to start training people in February and March for our work in the summer, but often by the time the high season comes around, those people might have secured another job or moved abroad or whatever, so that investment in training is wasted.”

Walker warned that a shortage of staff in the security sector is something that needs to be addressed with some urgency.

Wizard’s Frank said the German promoter does not have problems with staffing levels, but security demands from American acts in particular are now impossible to fulfil as they cannot have canine teams continuously on site, whereas in the States promoters can call upon local police units to assist with sniffer dogs. He also said that armed police are now a standard request from American touring productions, but in the UK nobody can supply that.

Responding to a question from the PSA’s Andy Lenthall, Kite said that Transam has an advantage in that rock n roll can offer more money than the normal kind of trucking jobs. However, the average driver age is 48-50 and there are very few young people coming through the ranks, as not many people want to go on the road for six to eight weeks sleeping in their cab and being treated badly when they get to each destination “To have your trucks parked miles away from catering and toilets is not a good incentive.”

Armed police are now a standard request from American touring productions, but in the UK nobody can supply that

Kite added, “We’re sold out end of June 130 trucks and we could do with 200 on the road. On some tours you’ll have 60 trucks, double drivers, so 120 drivers and perhaps another 60 drivers waiting down the road when you get the triple drivers situation…”

Delegates from across Europe voiced their concerns that the lack of personnel across multiple sectors is reaching crisis levels, with one German expert noting that although the country had full employment, it was big industry, construction and other careers that are recruiting young people, rather than the sectors involved in live entertainment.

Noting some of the various apprenticeship schemes and training courses that companies are investing in, the panellists nonetheless conceded that there is an international issue when it comes to attracting young people into filling vacancies in the production supply industries.

Turning to solutions, Frank spoke about shows Wizard did with Aerosmith where she talked with promoters in other countries to buy production for four days rather than two, meaning that the band could also benefit from that continuity.

The panel also addressed the potential of live entertainment corporations acquiring the likes of trucking and productions suppliers to ensure that their tours are catered for, perhaps cementing their monopolistic businesses.

With the growth of live entertainment in China, Star Events’ chief Roger Barrett concluded that in a few years’ time, Chinese riggers and crew might be awash in countries like the UK.


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