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Sowing the seeds

Jane Bell of Quadrilect explains how putting the emphasis on management in Facilities Management training means equipping facilities professionals for future success

Attracting the next generation into FM and ensuring a strong feed of new talent into the profession is now high on the agenda at all levels. Facilities management has long been seen as a route for diversification, attracting second career-seekers from related disciplines such as surveying, property, technical services and hospitality. But many now recognise the importance of appealing to younger generations of university and school leavers looking to build rewarding careers in a challenging and varied service sector. Given the record employment levels in the UK this Spring and a tightening labour market, the FM sector needs to raise its profile as a career of choice for a new generation of professionals.

One of the major challenges in promoting FM effectively as a career route has always been its diversity, and the lack of clarity around definitions and scope. But the creation of robust FM standards (including the recent ISO frameworks) alongside nationally recognised qualifications is helping to improve understanding of the important role FM plays in supporting organisations of all kinds. At the same time the profession continues to evolve and change, but it’s now a lot easier to identify the ‘core’ skills and capabilities required to become a successful manager in whichever context you practice.

As a training provider, Quadrilect works hard to maintain a careful balance between promoting recognised industry standards reflecting accepted ‘good practice’ and new ideas and trends likely to influence future decision-making. This is one reason why we constantly review the content and delivery of our courses, but also why we are so keen to maintain our integrated approach to learning through the multi-stage ‘core’ courses. These aim not only to build fundamental knowledge and skills, but also to encourage attendees to consider how new thinking is affecting the FM role and its priorities at different levels.

When the Foundation Course (Understanding FM) was first launched in the early 1990s, it provided a unique opportunity in the fledgling FM industry to explore and clarify the role of the FM, as well as to gain valuable technical knowledge across the key operational building blocks. In addition, it helped to show how the softer management skills contributed to success. The course has always appealed to professional ‘newcomers’ – either transitioning into FM from other fields, or just starting out in junior management positions. Over the years the programme has evolved and developed to reflect the changing emphasis in the profession and new areas of practice, but it retains its original principles, including the importance of sharing ideas and experience. All the expert contributors involved in the course have extensive operational experience which equips them to tackle the most challenging questions, and to recognise the need to get behind the theory with advice and guidance on implementing solutions successfully in the ‘real’ world.

The philosophy is similar for the two ‘intermediate’ programmes (FM – operational management, and The Professional FM – Business and People), and The FM Business School, which guide learners through the challenges of taking on broader and more complex roles up to senior levels. Again, there is an emphasis on practical and highly applied learning, designed to make attendees think about and question current practice to achieve better outcomes.

One of the key changes in the last decade has been the introduction of an expanding range of professional qualifications, which have focused significant attention on core competences for FM roles at different levels. Our ‘core’ courses play an important part in the tuition process since we offer qualifications from Levels 3-6, but in parallel they continue to provide valuable CPD opportunities for managers to extend or refresh their skills.

As the FM profession matures it’s clear that the most successful FMs are those who can really embrace the service ethos fully, and recognise the need to keep focused on ‘added value’ for customers and business stakeholders. Core technical and commercial knowledge remain key building blocks, but it’s the ability to synthesise these with the softer management skills that can deliver the most powerful operational results. Leadership of innovation and change is another critically important area where middle and senior managers can make significant impacts, especially in terms of strategic decisions on issues including sustainability, procurement linked to social value, and future portfolio planning.

FM now offers a rich and exciting range of career pathways, whether you choose to specialise in one of the many disciplines involved, or grow your general capabilities to progress towards a senior leadership role with either a client organisation or a service provider. Acquiring the right ‘toolkit’ is an important part of the process, but it’s not always easy to appreciate the bigger picture and to recognise the many and varied opportunities on offer. This is where investing time to stand back and explore new ideas and options through face-to-face learning can be so valuable, and it’s a major reason why generations of FMs still prefer to take part in our workshop-based training, despite the growing time pressure they are under.

One thing is for certain: life is never dull in FM, and for millennials looking for variety and challenge it could be just the answer, if they can find the right way in.

For further information about all Quadrilect courses and qualifications please visit our website at www.quadrilect.com or call us on 020 7469 1398 to discuss public or in-house programmes.

About Sarah OBeirne

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