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Asset Skills carves out new career pathways for FMs

08 July 2009

As well as fast tracking an Apprenticeship in response to employer demand, Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council for FM, is also seeking to make available the new raft of vocational awards.

The work builds on the 2008 publication of the first ever National Occupational Standards for FM produced by Asset Skills which set out the duties and responsibilities expected of someone working in the field. “There is a real need for an FM workforce that understands the complexities and changing nature of the sector and it is hugely important that more recruits can attain a recognised qualification in FM,” says Karen Waterlow, FM Specialist Adviser at Asset Skills. “There are a range of qualifications which have either just been launched or are about to be launched which will help raise the credibility and profile of the industry. They will play a central part in opening up facilities management and helping attract new blood while also developing existing staff.

The occupational standards of 2008 have formed the basis for awarding bodies to prioritise work to develop National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) in facilities management. The Waste Management Industry Training & Advisory Board has recently launched their FM NVQ and others are set to do the same soon.

The new apprenticeship framework, available from September 2009, will provide an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to enter or develop a career in FM. It combines the NVQ in FM, a technical certificate (which will be a new level 3 award offered by the Institute of Leadership and Management and developed with the British Institute of Facilities Management) and key skills training. There is also the flexibility to take either the NVQ or the technical award as stand-alone qualifications depending on individual circumstances and experience.

For experienced staff with no formal industry-specific qualification, the option of the NVQ as a stand-alone qualification based on their workplace experience will be appealing. This would also suit facilities managers with significant experience in other areas who wish to fill gaps in their FM knowledge.

Asset Skills is also creating more pathways to FM through lower level qualifications in other services areas. These include the new Apprenticeship in Cleaning and Support Services at level 2 and a new award called Skills for Supporting Public Service, available in September 2009, which has a core of customer service and has been developed largely with FM teams in the public sector.

“The challenge now is to ensure there is sufficient training provision in the market to meet this growing demand,” says Waterlow. “We are working with Further Education colleges, private training providers and employers to find a way of getting the training delivery in place.”

Training providers, particularly those offering related programmes in specific service areas, will need to be encouraged to move into the broader provision of facilities management. And as some of these qualifications will attract large numbers and are focused on workplace assessment, there will also be a potential avenue for existing FM professionals to undertake roles as assessors.

Carl Johnson, Head of Leadership and Development at Interserve, on Asset Skills’ announcement that it is fast-tracking a new FM apprenticeship. “The new apprenticeship will help us provide training and jobs at a time when unemployment is expected to rise towards one in ten workers by the middle of next year*. It is a great boost for thousands of younger people, who are leaving full-time education to enter a difficult job market, and it will benefit the industry by providing a positive first step into a career in FM. We are delighted with Asset Skills for its proactive approach to training and job creation and we look forward to continuing our work with them to develop the facilities management apprenticeship.”

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