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Employers support creation of thousands of new apprenticeships

06 May 2009

A new apprenticeship being fast-tracked that will enable thousands of young people to be taken on in the facilities management sector, is being supported by Asset Skills and 10 major FM companies.

Around 10 major FM companies including Interserve, MITIE, Carillion and OCS have called for the new qualification following the government’s recent push on apprenticeships fronted by Sir Alan Sugar.
It comes as Apprenticeships Minister Lord Young this week announced a further £7 million to fund more apprentices during the downturn.

Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council for FM with responsibility for developing the new apprenticeship, is now working to ensure the demand is met.

"Facilities management is one of the fastest growing, most essential yet least known sectors in the UK,” said Steven Proudfoot, UK Operations Director at Asset Skills and Chair of industry group Action FM. “More and more businesses are recognising the benefits of effective facilities management including outsourcing their building maintenance, catering, security and cleaning to FM companies. FM is also playing an important role in helping operate services in big public sector organisations such as schools and hospitals.”

The green agenda has had a big impact on facilities management changing the required know how of staff working in this field. Reflecting the growing importance of environmental issues, the new FM apprenticeship is one of the first vocational qualifications to include managing sustainability.

“It is essential the FM workforce is highly skilled and understands the complexities and changing nature of the industry,” said Proudfoot. “FM underpins so many areas of our everyday lives yet there is insufficient acknowledgement of its importance. The new apprenticeship will help draw in talent and ensure FM’s future is healthy.”

The apprenticeship framework normally comprises an NVQ, a Technical Certificate and Key Skills. Last year Asset Skills set the occupational standards for the new apprenticeship. Now awarding bodies, including City & Guilds, are fast-tracking work to produce a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) for FM and it is hoped it will be ready later this year.

"Facilities management employs hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and is not as exposed as other sectors to the recession,” said Helen Jeffery, National Skills Manager at Interserve. “At this time in particular, it is crucial that such an important industry and the people that work within it can benefit from a formal facilities management apprenticeship. We wholeheartedly support Asset Skills in their work with this qualification and are investing heavily to develop our offering for all of our apprentices."

The groundswell of interest from employers follows the Government’s recent revival of apprenticeships which has seen numbers treble from what they were a decade ago.

Across all industries the figure rose from 65,000 in 1996/97 to 225,000 at present and more than 110,000 people completed apprenticeships in 2007/08.

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