SAACI, the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry, has launched a student outreach programme for youth who want to enter the business events industry, and who are studying towards this goal.

SAACI Chairperson, Kim Roberts, says, “Our programme, which will roll out this year, will educate students about the basic elements of the business events industry, connect them with industry professionals and develop professional business events leaders of tomorrow.”

“Furthermore, it will foster participation of talented young leaders in the industry, in for example, our annual congresses and other events in the southern African region.

“Benefits for students include networking opportunities, career preparation and leadership growth.”

Students will also be able to access SAACI’s online academy, which provides additional resources to prepare them for internships.

The programme will work through a collaboration with participating tertiary institutions that offer relevant courses, which so far includes the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Johannesburg. SAACI student chapters at these institutions will facilitate volunteer and community service opportunities.

Roberts adds, “We will offer free membership for qualifying students whose tertiary institution is an educational member of SAACI. Students must be studying full-time at a recognised tertiary institution, in their final or honours year. Fields of study must include hospitality, marketing, public relations and communication, events and sports, and finances. Should students in these fields have qualified in the past year and are about to graduate, a special student rate will be offered for one year. This will offer students a platform to develop an understanding of the business and meetings industry whilst networking with professionals.

“They will gain experience in organising events and community service projects and will participate in SAACI branch events, building relationships with hospitality and meeting professionals.”