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Higher level apprenticeships in FM

Published 9th November, 2012 by Neil Nixon

Higher level apprenticeships in FM

BIFM and the Asset Skills led partnership have launched the higher level apprenticeships at levels 4 and 5 in facilities management at an event in London called ‘Inspiring the next generation of facilities management professionals’. The launch is the fruition of the project to develop degree level apprenticeships in facilities management which has been funded through the government’s Higher Apprenticeship Fund.

The investment to develop higher level apprenticeships means that there are now degree level apprenticeships for individuals and companies to utilise as part of their staff development and talent management programmes. Employers can now access these higher-level apprenticeships for their teams through the project partnership delivery partners.

The apprenticeship scheme is at the heart of the government’s skills strategy. Matthew Hancock MP, parliamentary under secretary of state for education and business innovation and skills, said: "Wage returns of advanced and higher apprenticeships roughly match those that a university degree confers, and we are committed to developing and promoting vocational learning as a viable alternative, as well as making this level the one which most learners and employers aspire to. We know that when a jobseeker has those sorts of skills to offer, they find themselves in demand."

The Asset Skills led project partnership comprises BIFM (The British Institute of Facilities Management), Sheffield Hallam University, Building Engineering Services Training (BEST), Leeds College of Building, The Manchester College, the Training and Learning Company and Westminster Kingsway College. The partnership has developed the higher level apprenticeships in consultation with employers to ensure they meet the skills needs of the sector.

Apprenticeships are not just for new entrants into the sector, they are also relevant to those already working in FM and looking to progress and develop their skills and expertise at any stage in their life or career. These apprenticeships and the BIFM qualifications in facilities management are central to opening up entry routes and development pathways in facilities management.

The launch event opened with Sarah Bentley, CEO of Asset Skills, who said: “Our research shows facilities management is sitting on a demographic time bomb where 51% of facilities managers are aged over 45 and 52% aim to retire between 55 and 65. This will mean a significant loss of skills and experience to a relatively new industry over the next decade. The new higher apprenticeships will ensure solid progression routes are in place to get the workforce the higher skills necessary to prevent this time bomb and also help professionalise the sector. There are now apprenticeships at levels 2, 3, 4 and 5 which will help build a much stronger future for FM.”

Angela Gill, employer account manager, National Apprenticeships Service, talked of how businesses are engaging with apprenticeships to “grow managers for the future, fill skills gaps in their organisation and bring in younger people into an aging workforce”.

Gareth Tancred, CEO, BIFM, closed the event highlighting the importance of the facilities management sector to the UK economy which equates to that of the financial services sector and the opportunity that it offers for people for an exciting and in demand career choice. The qualifications and apprenticeships are a key part of providing entry routes into the profession and developing talent within it. Tancred said: “We want to make FM a career of choice rather than a career of chance. We need to attract new talent into the sector and we have to develop the people within the sector to be the pioneers of the industry in the future. As the professional body for the sector we now offer qualifications at every level from level 2, entry level, right through to Masters level 7; it’s through these qualifications and building them into the apprenticeships scheme that we are seeking to plug the skills gap and nurture new talent to tackle the time bomb issue that our sector faces."

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