Open-access content 17th May 2011
A year after the launch of the BIFM qualifications, Valerine Everitt, professional standards and education director at the institute explores how employers and individuals responded to this.
19 May 2011
At the recent Th!nkFM conference in Nottingham, BIFM's Sig, Rising FMs, held a popular session called Why Qualify? One year after the launch of the BIFM qualifications, I went along hoping to find out more about what employers and individuals were thinking about this important subject.
It was a session with a difference, held in the conference hub, Your Career in FM. It was successful because of the enthusiasm of the presenters to engage with their audience and also because the session was based on a piece of research undertaken with the members of the Rising FMs Sig group. They were asked whether they already had a qualification, what they saw as the benefits of qualifying and their views about the value of being qualified in respect of future employment opportunities. It seems that over 70 per cent of those who responded are planning to start a qualification in the next two to five years, with nearly half of these wanting to get started in the next twelve months.
The most important benefits of qualifying were considered to be professional recognition by peers, professional credibility in the workplace and with customers, career progression and learning more and doing a better job. All the respondents were also asked to offer a 'personal statement' which would be used in the session.
As we arrived we were invited to circulate and look at the statements around the walls of the room. We were given stickers to put on the ones which we supported and could relate to. We then had a presentation outlining the development of FM career pathways and the sector qualifications on offer.
It was very encouraging to see how things have moved on over the last year. In addition to BIFM's suite of qualifications, there is now a Level 3 apprenticeship in FM and a Level 4 in development. One member of Rising FMs gave an inspirational talk about her own career progression and the value she's getting from studying for her Level 6.
So what about those who were less enthusiastic about formal qualifications and thought that experience was what really mattered? Yes, there were some voices here but only a minority. One participant summed it up, like this: "In an industry that has been built on experience rather than qualifications, it goes without saying that to succeed in the industry now, you have to have both". Or as another put it, "Qualifications and experience must go hand in hand for either the individuals and the industry to get any benefit from them". Now that BIFM qualifications are all assessed through practical, work-based assignments, I felt at the end of the session that there was a clear endorsement for the way qualifications are now being delivered for our sector.
For information about the BIFM qualifications, visit www.bifm.org.uk/bifm/careerdevelopment