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17 January 2019
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A youthful outlook

14 August 2013

I have always been an advocate of the opportunities that the FM industry can provide for young talent and how we could all do more to create those chances to get more young people involved.

For me, this is the case at every level, from GCSE, to apprentices, to degree level students and beyond. During my previous week at work, I have been reflecting on this fact.

As well as the day job, I have been searching for a building services apprentice, completing the search and offering a role to an up-and-coming technical manager, judging the Young Manager of the Year 2013 and trying to find a school careers day to exhibit the BIFM Rising FMs at.

It continues to strike me that there is still a lack of young talented individuals in our industry, but the ones that are here  are exceptional and so valuable to their organisations. We can all do more to bring more talent in to this industry. Here is just a brief of some of my experiences:
1. We (at Bilfinger FM) have just launched the search for our first building services apprenticeship, which is due to start later this year. There are great benefits on both sides: for the apprentice, a wealth of experience, paid work, a structured career path and the chance to gain a qualification; for the employer, you get to grow the future talent of the business yourself, considerable grants are available from government to assist and keep the rest of your employees on their toes with bright talent coming through with new ideas. We are also exploring taking on a facilities management apprentice to join the contract managers.

2. Due to recent company growth, I have also been looking to add a technical manager to our dynamic team.  My search was particularly specific: find someone who has exceptional technical ability and has a gregarious, out-going, customer-focused personality. Needless to say, this was a difficult (near impossible) challenge and I found many peers in the industry had conducted the same search without great success. So I changed my tack. “I’m going to grow my own,” I said. The pool was not large, but I began to search those who were nearer the start of their technical careers and had made the jump from engineer to supervisor to manager earlier in their careers.  I have now found someone that fits my new criteria.

3. Via the Rising FMs I have been considering new ways in which we can target school-age individuals to hear about the FM industry. I volunteered to exhibit at various school careers fairs across the south and got my first acceptance: an A-level careers evening. A couple of the Risings committee and I will be exhibiting the BIFM, Rising FMs and the opportunities the industry can provide to young people. With the now- established BIFM training levels, I consider this a particularly exciting time.

The challenge now, in a 60-second pitch to passing kids, is to explain what the industry is, what we do and the opportunities it can provide. All that in just just a short space of time, perhaps the biggest challenge of all – let alone trying to explain it to the parents!

Andrew Hulbert is associate director, facility services at Bilfinger HSG Facility Management.