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Apprentices at ABM

Attracting talent is key to our growth plans says Richard Sykes, SVP and President of ABM UK and Ireland, and ABM’s engagement programme for young people plays a key part

It was less than a decade ago when ABM didn’t exist in the UK and Ireland as a brand. Fast forward to today, and the hard work that has gone into establishing the brand here has positioned it perfectly as a significant player, ready to execute ambitious growth plans.

A significant part of those plans is the focus on the technical solutions area of our business to complement our existing and well-earned reputation for soft services and aviation solutions. Building our ABM Performance Solutions portfolio where our customers benefit from all areas of our expertise will be key to this, as will our focus on providing decarbonisation solutions through EV infrastructure and innovation.

Our continued investment in creating a pipeline of talent is driven by the opportunity which technical solutions provides. We have the potential to grow significantly, backed by our US-listed Fortune 500 constituent, ABM Industries. As we align globally as One ABM, a model of facilities management designed with the needs of our customers at the forefront, this is an exciting time for us.

We intend to drive our growth agenda with our subject matter experts supporting us, to move deeper into focused sector areas including transport, business & industry, public sector, distribution and manufacturing.

It goes without saying that our strategy only works with the passion and talent of our people behind us, which is why attracting and nurturing the next generation to create a pipeline of talent in technical skills is crucial.


We recently launched the sixth year of our Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P.), where we invited a new cohort of students to explore the diverse opportunities within the facilities management sector.

Supported by independent education charity The Talent Foundry, the programme is evaluated annually using surveys for all stakeholders, including students, teachers, and volunteers, which helps shape the future of J.E.E.P and highlights the successes of the initiative. After completion of the programme in 2022:

  • 95 per cent of students felt that their knowledge of facilities management increased.
  • After the programme was completed, 85 per cent of students felt that they knew what an apprenticeship was – an increase of 41 per cent compared to before the workshops.
  • 75 per cent of students felt ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ about their skills in STEM following their participation in the programme.

During the course, there is a theme of sustainability which is discussed throughout the sessions to build up to the students’ final presentation in the final session. The final presentation is an opportunity for the students to show their peers, teachers and guests from ABM a project they have created with the aim to make their school eco-friendly and sustainable.


As recruiting the right technical skills continues to be a challenge for us and many other sectors, our J.E.E.P. initiative sets out to raise the profile of apprenticeships and the facilities management industry amongst young people and their parents, in a bid to secure the future.

Dispelling myths about apprenticeships and helping to make this career pathway accessible to everyone is something we are extremely proud of. But as well as it being the right thing to do, J.E.E.P is about rolling up our sleeves and proactively plugging the skills gap which our industry is facing. Apprentices earn between £26,000 and £30,000 just a year after qualification—often before the age of 20—and without accumulating any debt: the benefits of this, along with the limitless progression available is something we as an industry must promote.

The J.E.E.P is aimed at year seven students, aged 11 to 12. Since its launch in 2017 over 650 students from various schools have graduated from J.E.E.P. This academic year the programme is running in schools across four areas where social mobility is a challenge: London, Birmingham, Bradford, and Manchester. The curriculum has expanded to include aviation and soft services, providing students with a holistic view of the facilities management industry. In addition to classroom sessions, the cohort of students also get to attend field trips to immerse students in core subjects like electricity, lighting, and safety.


Supported by independent education charity The Talent Foundry, the programme is also encouraging diversity in the sector. This intake of students included 61 female students (62 per cent of the total cohort) which aligns to a major objective of the J.E.E.P mission to promote technical positions to young women.

In order to achieve the growth plans that we’ve set out, we believe that engaging with young people and broadening their understanding of the sector, we are not only equipping them with knowledge of the sector for their future career options but also addressing the industry’s ongoing need for skilled professionals.

We look forward to another successful year of J.E.E.P., a year of growth for the business and a future where we continue to inspire and shape the next generation of talent in the facilities management and engineering sectors.


About Sarah OBeirne

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