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FM to benefit from £25m to fund NHS apprentices

29 July 2009

The Government has announced funding for FM and estates apprentices in the NHS just as the new apprenticeship in FM is officially approved.

Asset Skills has welcomed this move as new FM apprenticeship gets approval. The money is part of a £25m package to more than treble the number of apprenticeships in non clinical roles such as estates and facilities management, catering and IT support, and clinical roles such as dental nurses and pharmacy support workers. NHS organisations will receive the money to create 5,000 new apprenticeships by March 2010. The funding forms part of the Prime Minister’s commitment made in February to increase the number of apprenticeships by 21,000 across the public sector.

“We welcome this announcement of funding for apprenticeships in facilities management in the NHS,” said Richard Beamish, Chief Executive of Asset Skills. “FM plays such a crucial role across the NHS and the wider public sector and it is only right that this is recognised through investment in skills training. This funding announcement could not have come at a better time with the brand new FM apprenticeship having just received formal approval.”

The approval for the FM apprenticeship has been given by the Apprenticeship Framework Quality Monitoring Group and follows work by Asset Skills to fast track it in FM in response to huge employer demand. “Facilities management now has its first dedicated apprenticeship programme,” said Beamish. “This is an enormous step forward for the industry and will help raise skills levels right across the board.”

Commenting on the news, Carl Johnson, Head of Leadership and Development at Interserve, said, “We welcome the government’s decision to fast-track the new facilities management apprenticeship with a qualification which will really help to get the right people in the right jobs. 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 Facilities Management. 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.”

The new apprenticeship comprises an NVQ in FM, a level 3 technical certificate 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. It will provide an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to enter or develop a career in facilities management and will be available to employers in England from September. Asset Skills is continuing to work with training providers to ensure the delivery is in place. We are keen to hear from employers with potential candidates for the apprenticeship so we can register demand. Please email Karen Waterlow or call 01392 423 399.

The new apprenticeship has been developed following the 2008 publication of the first ever National Occupational Standards for FM produced by Asset Skills. This document laid out the duties, responsibilities and skills levels expected of the different job roles within the field. Brand new National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) in FM were developed by awarding bodies the Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board and City and Guilds. Other awarding bodies are continuing work to develop their own FM NVQs as part of the apprenticeship.

The programme will help new starters to the sector and experienced staff with no formal industry-specific qualification who will find the option of the NVQ as a stand-alone qualification based on workplace experience appealing. This would also suit facilities managers with significant experience in other areas who wish to fill gaps in their FM knowledge. The model for the FM apprenticeship is likely to be taken up in Wales and Northern Ireland and there is a separate apprenticeship approvals process in Scotland.

Asset Skills is also developing other pathways into 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. Asset Skills is 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.

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