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BIFM launches new qualification structure

28 January 2009

Following a two year long re-evaluation, the BIFM today launched its revised suite of FM qualifications from 2010 which will be submitted for accreditation in the first quarter of 2009. .

This year will see significant progress towards the BIFM's goal of ensuring its professional qualifications better meet the needs of FMs at all levels and are aligned to national qualifications. In December 2008 the BIFM Board formally approved the new suite of FM qualifications which will be submitted for accreditation in the first quarter of this year. A two year programme of evaluation, research and market testing will culminate in the launch of new products in 2010. During 2009 transitional arrangements will ensure that current qualifications continue to be recognised and candidates can continue their studies with confidence.

The first significant milestone in BIFM's education strategy was reached in April 2008 when the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA, now the Office of the Qualifications and Examinations Regulator or Ofqual) recognised the Institute as an ‘awarding body’. Achieving Awarding Body status was an important development because it gives external recognition and allows the Institute to apply for accreditation of its qualifications within the national framework.

BIFM recognised the shortcomings of its existing education structure and worked closely with individual members, employers, Asset Skills and other stakeholders to develop a new suite of FM qualifications that would be recognised outside the FM sector and were aligned to the national qualification structure.

Valerie Everitt, director of professional standards and education, said: "I am delighted with the progress BIFM has made towards implementing its education strategy. The new FM qualifications to be introduced in 2010 will help to ensure that employers have the right skills to support the success of their business. As the majority of those studying for qualifications do so while holding down a full time job, the framework of core and optional units will also provide a more accessible way of gaining a step up the career ladder.”

The main aim is to provide more flexibility and greater recognition for individual achievement, thereby encouraging take-up and accelerating the 'professionalisation' of facilities management. Importantly, the new qualifications are 'standalone' and candidates can enter at any point in the structure. As the downturn bites, both individuals and employers will be looking to protect their position and improve their prospects. For aspiring and practising facilities managers, qualifications demonstrate commitment and can improve their marketability, providing some insurance in a tough job market. Employers will want to invest prudently, to take advantage of the upturn when it comes. Retaining key staff will be important and supporting people to gain qualifications is one way of incentivising them.

New qualifications structure (see table above)
Each qualification within the national Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) is made up of units which sit within a level, and have a specific number of credits. Qualifications come in three ‘sizes’, expressed by the number of credits attached to the qualification: Award (1 - 12 credits), Certificate (13 - 36 credits) and Diploma (37+ credits).

The units for the new BIFM qualifications have been mapped against the Institute competence framework and the National Occupational Standards in FM. This structure will offer clear levels of achievement, from operational through to strategic facilities management, as follows:

• Level 4 is designed to provide a broad understanding of the facilities management industry for operational staff who may have some experience, are managers and may be responsible for a broad range of facilities management functions.

• Level 5 is targeted at facilities management staff who may have considerable experience and responsibility for more specialised and/or complex functions within the facilities management industry.

• Level 6 is for senior managers who have strategic and high level responsibilities for development and change within facilities management at that level.

Since the Employer Steering Group was introduced in November 2007, employers across the FM sector have made an excellent contribution to the development of the new qualifications. It is clear that the industry is keen for BIFM to design qualifications with added business value and links to the workplace.

Linda Punter, learning & development manager with Ecovert Group, said: “In an increasingly complex and demanding market, the development of professional FMs is key in meeting our clients’ needs and securing new business. Last year we ran the largest in-house BIFM Part 1 programme in the UK, with delegates from both hard and soft service backgrounds, all of whom were able to implement improvements to their operations as a result. This combination of quality and flexibility will make the new qualifications a welcome addition to our Academy.”

Graham Forrester, Associate FM Consultant for Gleeds International Management and Construction Consultants, said: “We are delighted to have supported the development of a new suite of FM qualifications developed by the BIFM. Gleeds are committed to the continuous development progression for FM Professionals. This will not only assist the personal development goals of those wishing to develop their FM skillset but also assist us in providing a service to our clients which is up to date and current.”

An important feature of the new qualifications is that they sit within a wider framework. For example, they will offer opportunities for progression from the new Level 3 Vocationally Related Qualification (VRQ) in Facilities Management developed by the BIFM with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). This new qualification will be available from early summer this year.

For further information regarding the above information, please visit the BIFM website www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/careerdevelopment/education or email pseco-ordinator@bifm.org.uk.


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