SACIA executive director Kevan Jones
SACIA executive director Kevan Jones

The South African Communications Industries Association (SACIA) has announced that the Council of Events Professionals Africa (CEPA) will be reconstituted as a special interest group under the SACIA umbrella.

CEPA was established in 2014 as the events industry’s Professional Body to develop and award professional designations to individuals working in the events industry. Originally formed as a three-way partnership between the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA), the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) Africa and the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), the Council (CEPA) has broad buy-in from members of all three associations, and the CEPA Board members appointed by the founding associations will continue to oversee activities through their appointment to a governing council.

SACIA has been instrumental in establishing and implementing professional standards and ethical business practices across the Communications Industries for the past 10 years. The journey has included the development and roll-out of professional designations for practitioners in the Audio-Visual, Broadcast and Live Events sectors – traditionally areas in which experiential learning is more prevalent than formal qualifications. SACIA’s objective is to provide clearly defined career pathways for individuals working in these areas, to encourage a commitment to lifelong learning, and to protect the public against unethical and/or unprofessional behaviour from certified members.

Along with the professional designations already available, SACIA will now proceed to develop and register new professional designations for the Event Management sector as well. This will provide for a formal recognition of competencies for professionals working as Event Co-ordinators, Event Managers and Event Directors, including related service providers across both small- and large-scale events in southern Africa. The events industry includes conferences, exhibitions, festivals and awards functions but also extends to weddings, funerals, sports days, social excursions, fund-raising events and much more. The baseline standard outlined in the various Professional Designation levels can be applied to all industry professionals working in the events industry, thereby creating new opportunities for individuals who may have been marginalised and/or denied access to commercial opportunities in the past.

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Events practitioners will soon be able apply for a designation to suit their level of expertise by submitting the relevant documentation and undertaking an online competency assessment through SACIA. Demonstrable proof of competency affords their clients’ peace of mind, knowing that they will receive a professional standard of delivery.

“This is a fast-growing industry and we are excited to be moving forward with SACIA’, says Sue Gannon, ex GM of EXSA and now Director/Treasurer and Chair of the Skills, Certifications, Ethics and Disciplinary Committee for CEPA. “Many of the people working in the events industry do not have a formal qualification but they’ve built up their core knowledge by attending short courses and learning on the job. Why should they not have a formal designation if they have the competencies required? We need to recognise the value of prior learning and provide for career paths within our industry.”

Melanie Sillince, Director and Chair of Marketing & Secretariat, CEPA, says, “I believe that joining SACIA will fast track our dream of certifying our industry, offering a platform for creating jobs and providing much needed skills transfer and development without it costing those who wish to professionalise themselves, time and large sums of money.”

According to Glenn van Eck, CEPA Board Chairman, the pioneering work done by the Board of CEPA has created a wonderful foundation for its successful incorporation under the SACIA umbrella. “At the end of the day, our primary objective is to give events customers a greater opportunity to be assured of world-class delivery for their investment in professional businesses. It will also provide an opportunity for first-time entrants into the industry to be exposed to the knowledge and experience of mentors in the Events Industry and enable them to fast track their expertise as a new generation of event professionals.”  

The merger with CEPA positions SACIA for coverage across the full spectrum of the events industry – including technical, operations and management, and opens up opportunities for SACIA members to tackle new challenges and prepare for industry advancements with a unified voice. The Association’s expanded structure will deliver enhanced value to all its stakeholders across the broader events industries, including live sound, audio-visual, event safety, cinematography, outside broadcast operations, lighting design, film and television, content creation and events management.

“Incorporating CEPA into our existing SACIA structures will allow us to expand our footprint and deliver real value to all stakeholders working in the events industry, from event organisers through to the technical crew responsible for turning dreams into reality,” concludes SACIA executive director Kevan Jones. “It’s about an entire industry sector coming together in the shared pursuit of excellence.”