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STARTING THE CONVERSATION EARLY

Mark Whittaker
Mark Whittaker

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03 June 2019 Mark Whittaker

Mark Whittaker discusses how to get more young people involved in FM.


Facilities management? What’s that, then? There’s still work to do to get the message out there so that people understand what a career in workplace and FM offers. 


We have a skills shortage and an ageing demographic so we need to attract and retain new talent in the profession, but careers education continues to ignore it. 


For several years, I have lectured undergraduates – mainly those studying building surveying and taking FM as an option – and extolled the exciting opportunities within the profession. But many already had a clear idea of what career they want and FM rarely features. The only way to change that is to start the conversation sooner. But how?


Class of Your Own (COYO) – founded by Alison Watson MBE – has the answer. She has worked with schools and employers to deliver an academic course for secondary and sixth-form students to provide the foundation for a career in the built environment. This is mainly achieved through a design engineer construct (DEC) course COYO has developed. 


Historically, we’ve missed the opportunity as a profession to engage with initiatives like this. But now we can start early to educate the next generation.


For the past six months, Sofie Hooper, senior policy adviser at IWFM, and I have been working with Alison to engage with the FM segment of COYO. We held two pilot workshops with students aged 12 to 13 at secondary schools in Chingford and Rossendale on World FM Day. 


We spoke of the difference FM can make on issues such as energy efficiency, recycling, single-use plastics, indoor air quality and natural light. The workshops are the start of an exciting period of engagement for our profession.


Rather than bemoaning that no one knows what we do, it’s time to become passionate and vocal advocates of our wonderful profession. Are you ready to take up the baton? 


Mark Whittaker is an FM solutions consultant at Thomson FM and a regional chair at IWFM