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Learning Opportunities

11 January 2010

From this month a long awaited change to the education and training structure for FM comes into force. Gavin Horrocks explains how the system compares to the previous qualifications structure and outlines the benefits the new system affords for learners and employers.

UNTIL 2009 THE RANGE OF FM qualification courses that tuition providers could offer had been somewhat limited, restricted in the main to offering learners help in studying for the BIFM Part I, Part II and ‘Qual’ and the City & Guilds Facilities Management Foundation programme.
From 2010 the range of qualifications on offer from tuition providers will increase to take in a much wider range of options. The qualification types (Award, Certificate and Diploma) at different management, or job function, levels are illustrated (right). The increase in range of qualification courses coincided with the need to incorporate a standardisation of structure, or format. A change was certainly required as there was a lot of uncertainty in all sectors as to the meaning and format of qualification titles. For instance, all qualifications tended to have their own name or identity such as:
-City & Guilds FM Foundation programme
- BIFM Part I / Part II / The Qual
- PRINCE II Practitioner
- Introduction to Project Management
- Recognition in Management Principles...and so on
Clearly it would be hard to know which has more relevance or importance when compared to another. The new qualifications are likely to be called, for instance:
- Level 2 Award in Supervisory Management
- Level 3 Award in Facilities Management
- Level 3 Certificate in First Line Management
- Level 4 Diploma in Facilities Management
- Level 4 Diploma in Project Management
- Level 5 Certificate in Facilities Management
- Level 5 Diploma in Personnel Management
There is a clear theme here and the idea of Levels is introduced, as is the concept of studying for an Award, Certificate and / or Diploma. Now the level of knowledge should reflect the management level that a learner works at, or aspires to; whereas the qualification type (Award, Certificate and/or Diploma) reflects the range of knowledge he/she wishes to develop. Learners looking for a new qualification to study would be advised to follow a step by step process for choosing a qualification and a study route that is suitable for their personal circumstances.
1. Decide on a qualification learning level (Levels 1 to 8): Levels 2, 3 and 4 are the most popular.
2. Decide which qualification type to start with (Award, Certificate or Diploma): Learners can start with any qualification type they so choose. There is no need for learners to necessarily have studied an Award or Certificate in order to gain a Diploma, for example.
3. Look at the study subjects that are being offered against each option: Study units will vary from one qualification level to another and different qualification types concentrate on selected subject choices.
4. Consider any transferrable learning you may possess: Sometimes training that has been achieved in past can be used as credits toward the new qualification and serves as a study exemption. Tuition providers will help and advise.
5. Find a suitable tuition provider: There are several to choose from. Learners should be sure to choose one that offers qualification courses. The advantages of the new qualification structure are such that learners can pick and choose which subjects they wish to study, or be assessed on. Many people in the FM industry tend to concentrate their skills and knowledge in certain areas, such as hard services and M&E activities. Others may work in a more customer facing role where soft skills are prevalent. Each person, or learner, can choose which subjects would be most pertinent and  therefore choose suitable ones to study and be assessed on.
This is good for employers, too as they can get involved with helping to select the appropriate areas of study for their staff. Tuition providers can also tailor training packages to suit their actual needs. And assessment is predominantly based on conducting and reviewing work-based assignments, so the application of knowledge is is
good for all parties.
Typically with all such qualifications, some study areas are mandatory but the ability to select study areas is proving to be a very popular development and a change that the industry has been looking forward to for some time.
● Gavin Horrocks is Training Director at Blue-Eye Training

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